The shadow Scottish secretary has urged the SNP to “shine the light of truth” on policing during the 1984-85 miners’ strike by holding an inquiry in Scotland.
Dave Anderson, who worked as a miner for 20 years, said Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has the chance to “right a wrong” and secure justice for miners across the UK.
Last week, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd ruled out a public inquiry into the clashes between police and miners at the so-called Battle of Orgreave in South Yorkshire, which saw some of the most violent scenes of the strike.
Campaigners in Scotland dispute claims that policing of the strike at sites such as Ravenscraig was different to that south of the border, and argue that political interference in the strike “undoubtedly” had an impact on its policing in Scotland.
An estimated 500 people were convicted and 206 men were sacked in Scotland during the bitter industrial dispute with Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government.
Speaking at the National Mining Museum Scotland in Midlothian, Mr Anderson, the MP for Blaydon, told the Scottish Government: “You’ve got a chance to right this wrong on behalf of the people of Scotland and also help us in England and Wales to get some justice as well.”
Addressing an audience of dozens of ex-miners, many of whom were arrested during the strike, he added: “Michael Matheson can resolve this, Nicola Sturgeon can resolve this, by saying we want to look into what happened in this country and shine the light of truth on what happened.
“There is a real chance for this country to prove that devolution was something worth fighting for, and I’m a passionate believer in devolution despite the fact I’m sad that it isn’t my party that’s ruling this country.
“That’s the democratic choice that the people of this country made. So when you made that choice you made it and you said, we want these people to stand up for the rights of ordinary people. They’ve got the chance to do that in this case and if they don’t they should be held to account be every one of us.”
The event was chaired by Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who has long campaigned for the Scottish Government to hold an inquiry.
He said: “Policing in Scotland was no better than elsewhere, indeed it may have been worse, contrary to what some ex-police officers claim.
“We have the opportunity here in Scotland to take a very different approach to Amber Rudd. Scotland and the Scottish Parliament could lead the way in the UK and begin the process, delivering justice and exposing the truth of what went on here and across the UK.
“To date both Kenny MacAskill and Michael Matheson as justice secretaries have refused to hold a Scottish inquiry. They have been siding with the establishment to prevent progress and we must change that mindset.”
Ex-miner and former Labour MP for Midlothian David Hamilton said a resolution arguing for an inquiry was set to be seconded by the SNP-led Midlothian Council.
He said: “I’m hopeful that the SNP will not align themselves with the Tories south of the border and I’m sure that they will see what is wrong and then right that.
“What they have got to do is have that inquiry. Collusion took place in the so-called independent police force in Scotland and it is something which I didn’t believe could have happened. We’ve got to make sure that never happens again.”
Nicky Wilson, president of the Scottish National Union of Mineworkers, said: “Surely it’s not too much to ask for this Scottish Government to give us the right to have justice for all the miners treated unfairly all these years ago?”
Ex-miners who attended the event also called for a campaign to be set up in Scotland, similar to the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.