MP is moved by testimony of former miners

A public meeting of the Scottish Government's Independent Review of Policing during the 1985 Miner's Strike took place at Auchengeich Miners Club
A public meeting of the Scottish Government's Independent Review of Policing during the 1985 Miner's Strike took place at Auchengeich Miners Club

Former miners provided moving testimony at a public meeting of the Scottish Government’s Independent Review of Policing during the strike of 1985.

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill MP Hugh Gaffney was among those who attended the meeting at Auchengeich Miners Club.

He said: “It was truly sobering to hear stories from former miners in North Lanarkshire, many of whom were speaking out about their experiences for the first time.

“The Scottish Government’s announcement of the independent review is welcome, and I congratulate Neil Findlay MSP for helping to pressure the Scottish Government through his tireless campaigning on behalf of former miners across Scotland.

“It was moving to see the meeting being well attended and men coming forward to share their experiences of the strike.

“Many of these men were only young boys at the time, but their lives were forever changed because of the events of 1985.

“They found themselves burdened with criminal records and blacklisting despite having never previously been in trouble with the law.”

Just 10 per cent of the UK’s mining workforce was situated in Scotland during the strike, yet Scottish Miners made up a disproportionate 30 per cent of all arrests during the strike with 500 arrested – 300 in a single day at Ravenscraig.

Mr Gaffney said: “A former miner at the meeting noted that he would not have survived his ordeal if it had not been for the support of his wife.

“This was a sentiment shared by many at the meeting and I think we should acknowledge the strength and patience of the women of the mining communities during and after the strike.

“We will never forget that Margaret Thatcher called the miners the ‘enemy within’ and sought to not only smash the miners, but the wider trade union movement too.

“The miners should be remembered for their bravery and selflessness, fighting not only for their jobs but for the very principle of trade unionism during the strike.

“We should never find ourselves living in a society where the state seeks to restrict the ability for workers to organise and mobilise through trade unions in order to defend their rights.”

Councillor Wullie Doolan, ex-Central District Organiser for the Strike, helped organise the meeting.

He said: “Many miners still bear the scars of being wrongfully arrested, wrongly convicted, and wrongfully dismissed from their employment.

“We do not seek revenge in our campaign, instead we seek justice, that will prove the vicious tactics deployed by the Government, were vindictive and cruel.

“We want to ensure that no future deployment of these tactics, will ever be used against workers, who only crime was to fight for their jobs.

“We are 33 years on and we are still demanding justice. The least these men deserve is closure and justice.”