Fife MSP backs Bill to pardon for miners convicted during strike

A Fife MSP has backed a proposed Bill which would provide a pardon for miners convicted of certain offences relating to the 1984-1985 miner’s strike
Annabelle Ewing.Annabelle Ewing.
Annabelle Ewing.

Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing says the scars of the miners’ strikes are still being felt in Fife communities even today.

She spoke in the Stage 1 Debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Miners’ Strike Pardons (Scotland) Bill.

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The offences under scrutiny include obstructing police, the breach of peace and breach of bail conditions.

In her speech Ms Ewing said: “It is beyond doubt that the scars of the 1984-85 miners’ strike are still felt deeply by former mining communities in my constituency and in other parts of Scotland.

“Indeed, the strike involved a unique set of circumstances which saw entire communities defending their way of life and their jobs against a UK Tory government that seemed determined to bring them to their knees by deploying the forces of the state to that end.”

The miner’s strike of 1984-1985 was a year-long period of industrial action as pit communities around the country fought to retain their collieries, for many the only source of employment.

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The dispute was catalysed by the National Coal Board (NCB) announcing the closure of 20 pits around the country, which equalled to more than 20,000 job losses.

Miners in Yorkshire and Kent were first to go on strike, followed by miners in Scotland, South Wales and Durham. Over the next 12 months, Britain witnessed a public battle involving the government, police, press and the national union of mineworkers.

The Cowdenbeath’s MSP says: “It seems beyond doubt that the direct employer, the NCB, operated an entirely arbitrary and unjustified policy on dismissal, frequently without reinstatement.

“Some miners were even dismissed although they had been admonished, found not guilty, or not proven, or indeed, not even brought to court at all. Dismissal brought with it financial hardship with loss of income, pension rights and difficulties for many in obtaining future employment.

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“The scars of the 1984-1985 miners’ strike are deep. The sense of injustice is palpable. The wrong suffered by mining communities lives on to this day.”

The bill was first introduced to the Scottish Parliament in October 2021 and is currently at Stage 1, being examined and reviewed by the Committees.