By John Ferguson
October 7, 2018 - The daughter of a miner whose life was blighted after he fought for jobs during the colliery strikes is demanding justice for her dad.
John Glen started working in the pits when he left school at 15 and manned the picket lines when the Tory Government began dismantling his industry in 1984.
Marie Glen wants an apology and justice for her miner dad John, inset
Image by David McNie, Daily Record
Not only was the dad of three – who died in 2009 – sacked from his job after being arrested during the industrial action, 20 years later he missed the trip of a lifetime to America for wife Avril’s 70th birthday after a visa knock-back.
Now his daughter Marie, 61, who works at the Danderhall Miners Club in Midlothian, is set to give evidence to a Scottish Government review that will look at the actions of police who arrested 500 workers north of the Border.
She believes her dad was treated like a hardened criminal for years after he was convicted of breach of the peace.
Marie said: “Dad was just a hard-working man who wanted to fight for his friends’ livelihoods.
“Mining was all he’d ever known, it was all he talked about, being down in the pits with his mates and all the things they used to get up to.
“He started after school at Newcraighall Colliery, then after that closed, he moved on to Dalkeith and on to Monktonhall in East Lothian, where we were during the strikes.
“By the time the Tories were looking to close down the industry, dad was a union rep and so he was determined to get people out on the picket line and fighting for the industry.
John in a newspaper clipping from the time of the miners' strike
Image by Collect
“He was charged with breach of the peace while at the Ravenscraig protests.
“I know he’d never have been doing anything to hurt or threaten anyone but the effect it ended up having on him was heartbreaking.
“After the police charged him he was sacked. I will always remember how upset he was when the pits reopened and the workers were piped back into the site and he had to watch from the sidelines.
“He was eventually admonished in court and was allowed to go back to work but the pit closed a few years later. The heart had been ripped out of the industry.
Police arrest a striking miner
Image by Daily Record
“He and the other men who led the strikes were victimized in different ways, including being blacklisted, and it affected the rest of their lives.
“The thing that made me most angry was dad missing the holiday to America for mum’s 70th birthday in 2004 because he was refused a visa. At the time he just tried to pretend he wasn’t bothered about it, but I know he must have been really upset.
“It was around four years before he died and I’d have loved it if he’d been able to go. Why he was refused a visa I don’t know.”
Hundreds of Scottish miners were charged during the strikes that spanned 1984 and 1985 but there were claims of police brutality and unjustified arrests.
The industrial action was kicked off by Arthur Scargill’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) after 20 pits were threatened with closure by the National Coal Board (NCB), including Polmaise Colliery, near Stirling.
By March 1984, half of the UK’s 185,000 miners were on picket lines protesting against the potential loss of 20,000 jobs. The demonstrations ripped communities apart, with those who crossed the picket line shunned by workers who felt they were fighting for their way of life.
Lorries go through picket lines at Ravenscraig
Image by Daily Record
In Scotland, trouble flared at Bilston Glen in Midlothian, Monktonhall in East Lothian, and at Ravenscraig steel works in Lanarkshire where miners were attempting to blockade the plant.
Workers who crossed the line were branded “scabs”.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who called the strikers the “enemy within” was determined to defeat the NUM after Edward Heath’s government was humiliated by them in 1972.
She was also accused of wanting to break the power of unions and de-nationalize industry.
John Scott QC, who is leading the independent review, has called for people to come forward with evidence.
Marie hopes that she will be allowed to give evidence on her dad’s behalf and finally get some justice for him and the hundreds of others who she believes were badly treated.
She added: “I know that dad would’ve been desperate to give evidence if he was around today and I want to do it in his place.
“I think he deserves an apology from the authorities because all he was doing was sticking up for communities, many of which never recovered after the pits were closed.
Margaret Thatcher waged war on the miners
Image by PA
“For our family, it was really tough times when dad wasn’t working.
“The easy thing for the miners to have done was not to stick up for jobs at other pits but they showed solidarity.”
Labour MSP Neil Findlay was one of the most prominent campaigners for the review. He said: “Since entering Parliament in 2011, I have campaigned for a public inquiry into the miners’ strike in Scotland. In December 2015, I, along with former miners, their solicitor and representatives from the NUM met with the then justice secretary.
“We were pleased that unlike his predecessor Kenny MacAskill, Michael Mathieson listened carefully and a year later set up an independent review.
“While it is not a public inquiry, it’s a step forward and will allow people who had first-hand experience of what happened in 1984/85 to come forward and give evidence.
“I appeal to anyone, be it former miners, trade union officials, police officers or people in the community, to come forward and give their evidence.”
Written responses to the review should be submitted by November 30. A final report is expected to be published in June 2019.