The Socialist 20 June 2018 |
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Orgreave - no justice, no peace
Orgreave marchers, 16.6.18, photo by Alistair Tice (Click to enlarge)
Joe Diviney and Chris McAndrew, OTJC and Sheffield Socialist Party
On the outskirts of Sheffield on Saturday 16 June, around 300 people assembled under the banners of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC); insisting that the government hold a full public inquiry into the events at Orgreave 34 years ago, when miners striking to protect their jobs and communities were beaten up, locked up and fitted up.
On a route circling the new-build housing estate of Waverley (built over the scene of the crime), our procession, which included Orgreave veterans, lined up behind Unite's brass band.
We began by marching through the same terraced street where mounted policemen rode down people attempting to escape an ambush planned by the state during the 1984-85 miners' strike.
On 18 June 1984, at a mass picket outside the Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield, thousands of unsuspecting miners were confronted by thousands of well-prepared policemen. Tooled up with truncheons and riot shields, Maggie's uniformed masters of thuggery chased miners through summer fields, indiscriminately clobbering anyone within their reach.
95 were arrested on trumped-up charges of unlawful assembly and riot. The BBC reversed the order of events in its news footage to corroborate the police cover-up, that violent miners launched an unprovoked attack.
However, the trial collapsed in 1985 because the police's 'evidence' was so obviously fabricated that even the British judiciary weren't fooled. Wrongs remained un-righted over decades of denials. But in 2012 South Yorkshire police referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Since then the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign's demand for a full public inquiry has reverberated round the meeting halls of the labour movement, becoming one of Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto commitments for the 2017 general election.
During the intervening years the OTJC has been busily working its way through Conservative home secretaries. Before Theresa May became better-known as an omnishambles prime minister without a parliamentary majority, as home secretary May proclaimed that the "principal obstacle" to rectifying historical injustices, like Hillsborough, was not "the passage of time" but the fact that "due process was obstructed".
On Halloween 2016, May's successor Amber Rudd tried her utmost to prove conclusively that obstruction was indeed the greatest barrier to justice, by making her ghoulish announcement that an inquiry into the truth about Orgreave was unwarranted because "there were no deaths".
Unsurprisingly, nobody's been deterred by this embarrassingly transparent effort to patch-up a three-decade old establishment stitch-up. It's an open question whether Rudd even read the OTJC's legal submission; but Rudd's claim that she "didn't see" the leaked Windrush memo hints that paperwork isn't exactly her strongpoint.
If Rudd's replacement Sajid Javid happened to be labouring under the misapprehension that the OTJC would conveniently go away, Saturday 16 June's defiant demonstration was a shot across the bows that'll deprive him of his delusions.
Orgreave is a Conservative Party conspiracy whose days are definitely numbered. Earlier this month the Scottish Parliament announced an independent review into the policing of the miners' strike. Following suit, the Welsh Assembly has also decided to write to the home secretary requesting an independent review.
The long-awaited full public inquiry into the events at Orgreave is fixed firmly within our sights.