Many of us who supported the Miners’ strike will remember the “Battle of Orgreave”. It was a terrible example of the State attacking its own people. For Nationalists at the time it reflected our view of ‘State against Nation’ – the concept that the British state was in conflict with our interests as a people (a view that has not changed in subsequent years).
The sight of miners being charged by mounted police wielding long batons was a revealation for some as to the true nature of our establishment. To see those picketing Orgreave cokeworks outside Rotherham in South Yorkshire being chased by dogs and beaten by riot cops woke people up to a violent, repressive reality.
One of the most shameless features of the attack was that it was premeditated. Miners were corralled into an area by the police surrounded on three sides. The BBC edited footage to make it appear that the miners attacked the police and were then charged – a reversal of the true sequence of events.
Ninety-five miners were arrested and charged with riot. Yet when the first batch of 15 went to court every case was thrown out. Police had to pay compensation to miners falsely charged. Yet to this day not a single police officer has been charged with any offence.
In 1989 South Yorkshire police were involved in the Hillsborough disaster. 96 Liverpool United fans were killed at Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground. Police blamed fans for the disaster. Relatives of those who died campaigned tirelessly for 23 years. They eventually won an independent inquiry which discovered evidence of a cover-up by South Yorkshire Police (the same force responsible for Orgreave). Now their role at Hillsborough is under official investigation.
The success of the Liverpool campaign prompted the launch of a demand for a similar investigation into what happened at Orgreave.
South Yorkshire Police has responded to the Orgreave campaign by referring itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, but the Orgreave campaigners want a full public inquiry.
Solidarity Trade Union backs the call for a full public enquiry. We urge our members to sign the petition and do all they can to promote the campaign.
Report by Patrick Harrington