A BARNSLEY MP has called for ministers to apologise to ex-miners after cabinet papers from 1984 revealed that Margaret Thatcher’s government did have a hit list of pits for closure.

Michael Dugher, the MP for Barnsley East, calls it 'one of the most shameful moments in our nation's history'.

Newly released documents reveal that Margaret Thatcher’s government had a plan to shut 75 mines over three years - despite denials from the then government and National Coal Board.

The cabinet papers also show that Margaret Thatcher was willing to go as far as declaring a state of emergency and bring in the army in order to gain victory over the miners and the unions.

Mr Dugher believes that coalfield areas are still suffering today because of the legacy of the pit closure programme.

He said: "These newly released papers reveal the true scale of the previous Conservative government's dishonesty in maintaining that this was simply an industrial dispute based on economics.

"We know now what we knew at the time that this was all about the worst kind of politics, about divide and rule, and an attempt to break the coalfield communities.

"It's clear that people like Margaret Thatcher and John Redwood did regard the miners as the 'enemy within' and were prepared to use the police and potentially the army to escalate the conflict.

"The objective was the destruction of an entire industry and the proud mining communities that sustained it.

"This resulted in mass unemployment and huge social problems that blighted those parts of the country for years to come.

"We're still living with that legacy today - including the perverse situation where we're forced to import coal into the UK.

"Rather than shedding tears for Margaret Thatcher, Conservative ministers today should apologise to former miners and their families for the dishonesty of the previous Conservative government.

"What they did to our coalfield communities was one of the most shameful moments in our nation's history."