Socialist Worker

Stop this class war cover-up—miners’ fury over Orgreave

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2528

Police hospitalised miners and then went to the hospital to arrest them later on

Police hospitalised miners and then went to the hospital to arrest them later on (Pic: John Sturrock)


The Tories are continuing a cover-up by refusing an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave.

Police attacked striking miners at the Orgreave coking plant on 18 June 1984, during the Miners’ Strike.

Then they fitted up 95 miners who were charged with riot.

The case collapsed because police falsified evidence.

Orgreave was a police riot. I want to know who in government was responsible for authorising police behaviour. We still want justice.

Former miner Paul Darlow

Norman Strike was a striking miner at Orgreave. He told Socialist Worker, “They don’t want an inquiry because it opens up a can of worms.

“It would have to look at why the police were sent to Orgreave in the way that they were—and who sent them.”

Former Derbyshire miner John Dunn agreed. “An inquiry would expose how the strike was micromanaged by Margaret Thatcher,” he told Socialist Worker.

“It would show how the police turned into a military body. And the scale of attacks on trade unionism.”

Police charged down miners

Police charged down miners (Pic: John Sturrock)


The Independent Police Complaints Commission has evidence of officers committing assault and perjury. Yet it refused to investigate allegations of assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice, manipulating evidence and misconduct in a public office.

Justice

Former miners and supporters gathered for a press conference in Barnsley on Tuesday. Former miner Paul Darlow told Socialist Worker, “Orgreave was a police riot. I want to know who in government was responsible for authorising police behaviour. We still want justice.”

Norman said there should be an inquiry into policing of the strike in general. “We had 365 days of police violence, injustice, people getting banged up for no reason,” he said.

“Villages were surrounded by police. People were assaulted by police. It was happening every day.”

Activists from other campaigns condemned the decision not to hold an inquiry. Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC) told Socialist Worker it was an “appalling decision”.

She said, “The HJC sends its support and would urge campaigners not to give up. Maybe the lesson to be learnt is that it’s a mistake to put trust in politicians and to allow them to control the agenda.

“Solidarity with all former miners who deserve justice.”

Unfortunately some who back an inquiry, such as Labour MP Andy Burnham, hope to repair the reputation of the cops.

Battle

Norman said, “You can’t restore faith in the police. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said they’re different now. But try telling people who’ve been kettled and who go on demos that the police are different these days.”

Amber Rudd doesnt want to see any inquiry into Orgreave

Amber Rudd doesn't want to see any inquiry into Orgreave (Pic: WordSkills UK/Flikr)


The miners’ strike was a battle waged by the Tories against the whole working class.

Ex-miner Johnny Woods told Socialist Worker, “The Tories’ aim at Orgreave was not just the downfall of the miners, but to break the idea of solidarity in the working class.”

Norman rejected the idea that Orgreave happened too long ago to be investigated. “Hillsborough was a long time ago,” he said. “But we needed to look at that. Lots of sex abuse cases were a long time ago.

“You can’t just let things be buried.”

The battle isn’t over. John said, “We’ll fight on like we have fought for the last 32 years.”

Norman added, “It’s a long time ago but it still rankles with me.

“What about the miners who were jailed or lost their jobs? We were called the enemy within—and we weren’t.”


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