Don’t forget our Scottish miners

jimtoggleJim O’Neill says we should stand up and argue when our government makes a mistake, whether or not we voted for them, and a case in point is investigations into police action against miners in the 1980s.


Last week, an intervention by one of our regular commenters challenged me to be critical of the last Westminster and Holyrood Labour governments. Anyone who knows me knows that this is not difficult, as I raised many concerns during those periods.

Some examples: I was proud to represent my then Constituency Labour Party at a Scottish Labour Party Conference in Dundee which raised serious concerns about an attack on Iraq. I was one of those who helped refer back the agenda to ensure we could debate this.

Similarly, I have strong views that the NHS was set up to be free at the point of need. If a doctor tells me I need a drug, it should be free. Thus, I opposed then Health Minister Andy Kerr when he refused to make prescriptions free, and it is to the eternal credit of the SNP government that they did this.

But to today’s concerns. We have all been angered by Amber Rudd’s decision to refuse an investigation into police actions at Orgreave during the Miners’ Strike despite an earlier promise by her predecessor, Theresa May. Such a decision would not have been made without the agreement of the Prime Minister. Look at how quickly she has slapped Boris Johnston down when he has slipped off message. However, those of us who were around at the time have searing memories of the cavalry charges by “police” at Hunterston B and the uses of 19th century laws to arrest miners and their supporters across Scotland.

Neil Findlay MSP, among others, has been calling for a similar investigation in Scotland. Rudd’s argument is that it was all too long ago, but there have been consistent stories of soldiers masquerading as police, of police use of force, of police without numbers, and of use of that legislation which still seems not to have been repealed. Do we not owe it to those brave miners who have effectively now lost their industry to revisit these events to ensure that they can never be repeated? Is it not time that the stains on the characters of those convicted during that time only for fighting to defend their jobs to be removed? Should we not be investigating those illegalities perpetrated by the authorities on our fellow citizens?

I am proud of that part that I played, as a Labour and Co-operative Councillor on Kilmarnock and Loudoun Council, in supporting many local miners’ families during the strike. But I am aware that there is unfinished business. So, we must support the calls for an investigation. Over to you, Nicola!

Last week, the Scottish Government published a series of reports into fracking. The Minister immediately kicked the whole issue into the long grass by announcing a consultation starting in… January! If the normal processes pertain, the consultation will be a minimum of three months which will take us into the campaigning period for the Scottish Local Government elections. No Government will want to pronounce on such a controversial issue during a campaigning period, so an announcement will probably be delayed at least until June.

In the past the Scottish Government have used very short consultation periods when they want to legislate quickly. The information is all before us. Fracking will bring climate change problems. The impact on local transport issues will be high. There will be few additional jobs. And how can it be suggested that there will be little impact on seismic activity in the same week as the latest earthquake in Oklahoma, which has been blamed on fracking?

Labour has committed to banning fracking in Scotland. It is about time that the Scottish Government stops running scared of Ineos and their fracking pals. They should run a very short consultation, and ban fracking in January, thus enhancing their climate protection credentials.

Finally, Trump!!!!!!!! Nuff said.

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5 thoughts on “Don’t forget our Scottish miners

  1. I agree with everything you say on miners nhs etc if it goes to a vote on banning fracking it will be interesting to see how the snp vote on mr trump former snp msp chic brodie has said given the size of the investment at turnberry and its importance to the local economy it was a massive own goal for the Scottish government not to be at the inauguration

  2. There can be little doubt that the British State utilised the forces of the State against the NUM in their dispute. The secret services, the police and the media acted under State control. Onlya Westminster government has the authority to delve into and expose any of this.
    I was on strike for a year. With no income. I brought my fiancé over from France and we married in the middle of it. I cannot thank friends, family and neighbours enough, for their kindness at this time.
    I cannot thank the Labour Party at all, since they renounced the miners and denounced the strike. Labour MP’s slunk away and hid.
    But anyway.
    What precisely do you propose the inquiry look into Jim?
    Policing? The Law? What evidence have you got? How many *credible* witnesses ( and folk standing there saying “it wisnae me” wont work).

    I would rather an enquiry into the theft by the British State of the Mine workers pension fund—-amounting to billions of pounds.
    And Labour wont be exempt from this either. In 2002 ( in government, as they were for 13 years ) they asked Watson and Wyatt Actuaries for their assessment .
    Governments were( and are) creaming 50% of all profits without putting in a penny piece, amounting over the years to £9billion, if we include pension “holidays” by British Coal.
    Watson Wyatt Actuaries stated a fairer breakdown would be 85% to miners, 15% to the State especially as miners were dying at the rate of 10,000 per annum and any prospect of the pension fund being in arrears were close to zero.
    The then Labour government ignored this advice and carried on stealing miners pension moneys.

  3. Fracking.
    Presumably Scottish Labour would shut any coal mines if any were left. Yes?
    Fracking produces gas. Same as “natural” gas from the N Sea. Is Labour proposing to stop gas production from Scotland’s coastal waters? Or stop imports from abroad?
    How about oil? Climate change is undoubtedly happening because we produce carbon, but Fracking is only one source, and Scotland can only be a tiny producer compared to the huge shale beds in the US.
    Perhaps it’s the methodology. Pennsylvania needs a thousand NEW wells very year because it’s a proximate method of production, and wells are exhausted quickly. But that also keeps people in work, and that’s a GOOD thing? Right Jim?
    Perhaps it’s earth tremors. But my house shakes all the time with lorries travelling through our village, so it won’t make any difference to me. Unless these are more than tremors. Are they Jim?
    So unless fracked gas is going to be produced in larger volumes than seems either possible in Scotland, or economical—–a subject never broached by pundits—–then, as the actress says, “I just don’t give a damn”!

    1. I also seem to recall when the SNP target for renewable power was the equivalent of 100%, Scottish Labour’s was 80%.
      That was nuclear, wind and solar.
      Where was t he other 20% to come from? Does anyone know?
      What IS Scottish Labour’s energy mix nowadays? Presumably if gas is banned, then it will be new nuclear( increasingly expensive) wind and solar.
      Right Jim?

  4. Given the fact that there wasn’t even a Scottish Parliament at the time, I’d be interested to know how your putative investigation would be conducted, into whom and by whom.

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