Socialist Worker

Tories' picket line lies

Issue No. 1

Miners injured in Maltby, South Yorkshire, on 24 September 1984

Miners injured in Maltby, South Yorkshire, on 24 September 1984 (Pic: John Sturrock/reportdigital)


The police and the media have spent the twenty eighth week of the miners' strike engaging in an orgy of lies about 'picket line violence'.

They claim that on Friday and Monday heavily outnumbered police were subjected to a three hour-long barrage of bricks, bottles, air gun pellets and catapult-launched ball bearings from 5,000 pickets at Maltby in South Yorkshire.

In fact there were 2,000 pickets at Maltby on Friday, faced by police horses and dogs from the South and West Yorkshire constabularies. Pickets counted 180 minivans full of police going into the pit yard with more following in coaches.

There were no air rifles, and the police were subject to sporadic bricking only after they had baton charged the strikers.

The Daily Express claimed that on Monday 'pickets opened fire with deadly new weapons', as '500 brave policemen faced 5,000 raging pickets'.

Yet just 1,000 pickets turned out. Ted Millward, treasurer of the Maltby miners, told Socialist Worker what happened.

'There was a massive police presence and we couldn't get near the pit gate. They shoved us right away to the perimeter of the village. There was some stones thrown, but very little.'

Police waited until around 250 pickets remained before boiler suited officers with no identification marks emerged from woods, to launch a savage attack from behind.

'I was involved at Orgreave, but I've never seen anything like this. And a lot of hte public, who were on their way to work, saw it all,' said Ted Millward.

'They saw them smash pickets with no attempt to make arrests. They let their dogs bite us.

'Two of our first aiders who were bandaging a lad bleeding on the floor were hammered.'

 (29 September, 1984)


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