By Nicola Croal
Leading human rights lawyer, John Scott, will tonight address miners in Cumnock town hall about issues raised during the year long miner’s strike from 1984-85. The aim of the local engagement will be to revisit the way policing was handled and the impact the strike had on families across Scotland.
Gatherings are being held across the country from the 13th of November to the 6th of December. Local residents are encouraged to come along to share their memories and reflect on their experiences. The stories shared from those affected will be used to conduct a 2019 report which will evaluate the overall significance of the strikes and how to learn and move forward from them.
Scott will be joined on the panel by former MP Dennis Canavan and Glasgow University public law professor, Jim Murdoch. They will be joined by former Police Scotland Constable, Kate Thomson. Anyone unable to attend the meetings can share their story through email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday the 30th of November. The meetings can also be followed on Twitter through the hashtag #MinersStrikeReview.
Canavan commented on the importance of the meeting via social media. He said in a tweet today, ”If you think you have relevant evidence, please come along and spread the message to ensure a good turnout. Uncovering the truth can help in the pursuit of justice.”
In March 1984 thousands of miners went on strike to prevent the loss of their jobs by Thatcher.
The ongoing current discussion across the country will shed light on the violent clashes between police officers and miners. It’s been reported that over 20,000 miners were injured. The strikes were led by National Union of Mineworkers, Arthur Scargill, when the National Coal Board announced that 20 pits were set to close. Over 8000 officers were involved across Scotland and over 300 miners were arrested as a result of the riots at Ravenscraig. The media portrayed the miners as criminals and however it has also been stated that it wasn’t the fact that the miners were striking that was the issue, it was that they were attempting to prevent other workers from going about their jobs. On the day, steelmen and miners clashed in front of the giant steelworks as the pickets attempted to stop goods reaching the Ravenscraig factory. However, ex Labour MP Dennis Canavan is quoted on the BBC this morning as saying that this Cumnock meeting and other meetings throughout Scotland are a great opportunity to unite miners and police after 34 years of suspicion, and for previously criminalised miners to clear their names.
The UK wide miner’s strike came close to breaking the Thatcher Government at a time when working class people in Ayrshire were battling against scathing cuts by the Tories.
The strike split Scotland’s industrial base by setting worker against worker and miner against steelman.