|Volume 49 Number 13, June 22, 2019||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
June 18 marks the 35th anniversary of the police assault against striking miners at the Orgreave Coking Plant near Sheffield and Rotherham, South Yorkshire, where miners aimed to set up a mass picket to prevent lorries supplying coke to the steel industry during the 1984-85 miners' strike.
To commemorate this anniversary, the annual march organised by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) took place on Saturday afternoon, June 15, with around 500 people marching past the site of the former coking plant at Orgreave. The march was led by the Unite union brass band along Orgreave Lane with the Orgreave No Justice, No Peace banner at its head and many trade union banners and placards. At the conclusion of the march there was a rally with a number of speakers including Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades' Union, and Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers.
In their press statement the OTJC said: "The OTJC is continuing its call for the Conservative Government to implement a public inquiry into the organised brutal attacks by the police on Miners at the Orgreave coking plant on 18th June 1984. We need to put an end to the injustice experienced by Miners and our communities over the last 35 years."
This violent and brutal assault by the state against striking miners on June 18, 1994, was undertaken by the Thatcher government when the strike was at its height. Hatched up by Thatcher's inner circle, the state turned up at Orgreave with a plan to break the strike. They mobilised 6,000 state forces in riot police, police cavalry as well as thousands in unmarked police uniforms to launch this assault against pickets who were in t-shirts and trainers. Then following this through the courts they criminalised the pickets for resisting this violence by the state. The force included 42 police officers on horseback and the first units with short shields and truncheons ever used in Britain. "Their official purpose, stated in the police's tactical manual, was to 'incapacitate' demonstrators." More than 50 miners were seriously injured, some with head wounds from batons, some with legs and arms deliberately broken from the horse charges and snatch squads that seized miners. A number of police were also injured as a consequence of this state assault. According to official reports given in the press, which are known to be unreliable, 55 of the 95 who were arrested were charged, with the police statements infamously being fabricated. The BBC News on the night of Orgreave also infamously doctored the film footage, showing some throwing missiles to defend themselves out of sequence to try and prove that the miners had provoked the police assault, rather than some miners responding to defend themselves, whilst most were cut down by police as they tried to escape.
At the time, many, including eminent lawyers, said that this assault by the ruling elite under Thatcher on the miners at Orgreave had the aim to decisively defeat the miners and try and break their will by using the full forces of the state. They were, in Thatcher's words, "the enemy within". However, this had been done to the working class on many occasions in its history. For example, this summer is also the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester. But what marked out this new assault on the miners at Orgreave in 1984 was the Thatcherite strategy to open up the whole neo-liberal offensive against the working class nationally and internationally and not just to close the pits. They refused even to negotiate. Their aim was to defeat the strike and destroy the miners as a force for the rights of workers in society, a force that defended the rights of mining communities and presented the greatest obstacle to their neo-liberal offensive so that they could go on to defeat the whole opposition of the working class and people.
The aim of Thatcher and ruling elite behind her in launching this assault on the miners was to put society under the unbridled control of the rich, financial oligarchy and global monopolies, an aim that was to go on to have such further disastrous consequences for the livelihoods and well-being of the working class and people in Britain and the world.
Orgreave confirmed that a system that gave Thatcher and her inner circle power was unfit to rule society. Thatcher even said openly there is "no such thing as society". In fact, the ruling elite still does not recognise society and its needs today and cannot harmonise the interests of all, and its rule continues to give rise to civil war at home and war abroad.
That is why the task taken up for solution was and is today for the working class to constitute itself the nation and to vest sovereignty in the people. This is a task of building the independent workers' opposition along the line of march for its own alternative political programme for justice and peace at home and abroad. It is to organise society and a modern economy that meets the needs of all and brings about democratic renewal of society so that the people decide.
Workers' Weekly hails the spirit of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign that on its 35th anniversary continues to be determined to fight to get justice for miners who were victims of the police lies and cover-ups at Orgreave in June 1984. Important conclusions can also be drawn from the reluctance of the present Conservative ruling elite to set up the inquiry into Orgreave that the miners demand. This further confirms that those in power are unfit to rule. The working class needs to continue to organise for a new direction for society which recognises the rights of all. It must settle scores with such crimes in the history of the heroic struggles of the working class and people.
 Orgreave Truth and Justice website (https://otjc.org.uk):
The OTJC is continuing its call for the Conservative Government to implement a public inquiry into the organised brutal attacks by the police on Miners at the Orgreave coking plant on June 18, 1984. We need to put an end to the injustice experienced by Miners and our communities over the last 35 years.
Kevin Horne, OTJC activist and miner arrested at Orgreave said:
"Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, should have the decency to acknowledge previous Home Secretary Amber Rudd's miscalculation and now commission an inquiry into police brutality at Orgreave. The truth will eventually come out and trying to conceal the facts clearly highlights that only a government with something to hide would prevent an inquiry"
Secretary of the OTJC, Kate Flannery said:
"The government has turned down our call for a public inquiry and has rejected a request from the Bishop of Sheffield to set up an Orgreave Independent Panel. We will carry on fighting for truth and justice. When the state has brutally attacked ordinary people, those in power have always covered up the truth as they did at Peterloo 200 years ago and have done many times since. We will ensure that the truth will come out about Orgreave"
Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament, Neil Findlay said:
"Last year, Scotland finally secured an independent review of Policing during the 1984-5 miners' strike due to the unrelenting efforts of ex-miners working with supporters including me. It is only right that Sajid Javid declares a full public inquiry, into what happened at Orgreave on 18th June 1984. Ex-miners, and those who come from mining communities will then have an opportunity to come forward to present evidence and seek justice. The Tory Government cannot delay any longer - we need to know the truth."
The OTJC are also involved in other commemorative events throughout the year.
Over the next two weeks we have an event organised at the Manchester People's History Museum - From Peterloo to Orgreave - on Thursday June 13 and an event organised with Sheffield University at Sheffield Kelham Island Museum on Tuesday June 18 - Barry Hines - After the Strike.
 "We were fed lies about the violence at Orgreave. Now we need the truth", https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/22/orgreave-truth-police-miners-strike