Friday, 12 June 2015

Orgreave

I have to declare a personal interest in relation to Orgreave. I was living (at least during the week) and working in South Yorkshire, in a mining area just outside Doncaster, during the miner's strike. I saw some cruel and spiteful acts against miners and their families, the worst of human nature that takes advantage of human adversity but also warmth, courage, humour and friendship from people who had next to nothing. It was a pointless, unwinnable strike provoked by Scargill for all the wrong reasons, yet as a monument to the fight by a fatally injured industry against the dying of the light it was a magnificent act of human solidarity. Of that struggle, Orgreave was perhaps the most memorable of the conflicts between police and miners. 

The IPCC has now formally declined to pursue a number of charges against the police. The South Yorkshire Police are named, but as we know it was the hard boys from the Met, Maggie's Met, that were the least restrained in their violence. They didn't have to live in the county after, or raise kids amongst the children of workless ex-miners. The IPCC doesn't say the charges are untrue - just that too much time has now passed to ensure justice. Funny how that argument is used when the State, or criminal members of the political class, face legal action yet doesn't apply to show biz figures or supposed 'war criminals'. Except Blair. My own view of the possible charges against the police?

That police used excessive force at Orgreave
The use of batons and charges by police cavalry as captured on film was clearly excessive, other policing probably not.
Police statements were manipulated
Of course they were. Plods sit down together in the canteen with their notebooks and decide a version of events between them - you'd need to interview them individually immediately after an incident to get something that wasn't 'manipulated'
Officers gave false evidence in court to justify both use of force and to support charges of unlawful assembly and riot
Probably true in many cases though probably not universal. The question of 'riot' is a key point; the 2011 England riots really were riots, but Orgreave, where events were always under police control, was not. 

The fact that police evidence at the time was officially disbelieved and almost all the charges were thrown out by the courts is, though, probably judgement enough. 

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't ever be as quite objective about that strike as I would wish to be. For, it affected so many in this region, of my birth. Scargill, was looking for a fight, if he'd have waited for the Nottingham and Derby lads - he'd have won his battle, he didn't and thus, he lost.
The social costs of shutting down pits were extraordinarily harsh, villages were left with nothing and still these days, people mope around forlornly in former pit areas as if still in shock. Removing the pit was like extracting the living spine out of society - it still hasn't recovered. The government should maybe, have forcibly removed the people and resettled them.
Orgreave, was a festering small scale war, coppers versus the left and anyone who was up for a fight and plenty came but no end was achieved.
It was horrible, it was hard, it had to be done - really, how many kids would go down a mine to work for a living - now? Not bloody many.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember many mines around Saltley. What were Scargill's thugs doing there? Oh, and all that community spirit; "Scab! Scab! Scab!" such a feature of those times, (now moved to Twitter & Facebook).

G. Tingey said...

Heard the now-old joke of the times, that Scargill was in the pay of the CIA & the madwoman in the pay of the KGB?

On a semi-related subject ...
Look at the main header in today's Torygraph ... they claim to have some very damaging dirt on the scum, Blair.

Anonymous said...

Makes me laugh when you have labour MPs lauding the opening of "heritage centres" built in the areas where the pits and mines were closed, telling us all how bad it was that the miners lost their jobs.
This in the same breath with them talking about the evils of coal and the damage it does to the environment.
Ironically we have two organisations involved in this story - the IPCC and the IPCC.
You couldn't make it up.

Anonymous said...


Blair? Just evidence that "Political Class" trumps "War Criminal" in the current version of Diversity Poker.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

@Tingey: Except the truth is Scargill actually *was* in receipt of money from "Russian interests" via the International Miners Organisation. The ordinary miners were badly led into a stupid strike. Scargill himself really was the enemy within. "The working class can kiss my arse/I've got the Russian gold at last"

Living in South Yorkshire it is interesting to see how bitterly a lot of the ex-miners feel about Scargill. I heard the above ditty in our local pub from a man who stayed out for the duration.

And if he had waited for Nottingham & Derby they'd still have lost, because it was the height of summer and coal stocks were sufficient for at least 18 months. But he didn't wait and he didn't have a vote because like a true Communist he wasn't going to hold any ballots he wasn't certain of winning. Scargill's goal was to topple the Government. Happily for the rest of us the so-called madwoman had more balls than traitor Heath. I often wonder how much the hatred of Thatcher is driven by working class misogyny. After all Harold Wilson closed a lot more pits and no-one seemed to mind.

Anonymous said...

Having been brought up among the mining areas of East Durham everyone knew several things.
1. Mines were going to close regardless - In Durham mines had closed for many years gradually from West to East until the point came that the largest pits mined coal at the coast with the workings several miles out under the sea.
2. Scargill was going to have his strike regardless. We knew and we also knew the tories knew and had prepared for it.
3. Flying pickets were a Scargill tactic from the earlier strike that had closed down power stations and brought about the 3-day week and the fall of the Heath government. That lesson has been learnt well.

No one voted for the strike, if it had any legitimacy there might have been some headway. If Joe Gormley had been union president he would have come to a deal as he had previously and everything would have played out differently, to the greater benefit of the miners.

But the pits were always going to close because at the end of the day that's what happens to uneconomic pits, Scargill gave the process a big 'hurry up'.

But I have no sympathy to anyone who wants to refight battles that should not have been fought in the first place.

Anonymous said...

My kids are now all in their 20s. Unlike me, they have never seen a 3 day week; never seen a power cut (not one) in their lives. The telly isn't switched off by the state at 21:00 and their house has never been cold and dark in the winter. Oh, and we have no candles, other than decorative ones. I lived through all that shit, and winter was like ground-hog day *every* winter; you prepared and stocked up in the summer for the coming winter!

Why in Gods name would anyone want to live their current comfortable lives through the warped "nostalgia" for the 70s. The only good thing to come out of the 70s was the music!

Coney Island

Anonymous said...

Re: SW " I often wonder how much the hatred of Thatcher is driven by working class misogyny."

Nope. The left loathe Mrs T because she broke their stranglehold on the working classes votes, by enabling a bit of hope and aspiration.

But the left hate the working class more because their reaction was to try to replace them with immigrants.And over the next twenty or thirty years we'll see that they will have been successful at this.

Raedwald said...

Thatcher did what was necessary to curb TU disruption to the national economy, but it wasn't pretty or elegant; I was also in London after this as Wapping was playing out and the same Met plods who had just finishing beating the shit out of tough-as-nails miners weren't going to take any crap from some cockney printers ... but they'd learned their lesson, and did their violence behind cordons away from the lens.

What I learned from both events is that when the State decides to get heavy with dissenting groups it doesn't lack willing volunteers to do the necessary thuggery. So you'd better pray that safeguards are in place to make sure they don't come for you ...

genghis said...


My one contribution to the strikers' doom was to give totally incorrect directions to two car-loads of 'flying idiots/pickets' who wished to attend some ludicrous demonstration of solidarity being held in my immediate locality.

Every pint of petrol wasted by these f@@**## idiots was worth a gallon to the 'good guys'.

Hate to say it, but as the televisioon screens showed Scargill marching in disgrace at the end of that lunatic effort to overthrown the government, I believe I was accompanied by a host of others as I laughed, and laughed, and laughed!

G. Tingey said...

Radwald
What I learned from both events is that when the State decides to get heavy with dissenting groups it doesn't lack willing volunteers to do the necessary thuggery
YES

So don't PLEASE EVER AGAIN blame or criticise Germany or the Germans for the, err, "unfortunate events" of 1933-45.
Something my father (Who was in CivMilGov 1945-48) taught me ....
There was a saying in the 1950's ... "It couldn't possibly happen here, those horrid Nazi Germans ..."
At which point, my dad, normally the mildest of men, would lose his temper, & verbally completely ream whatever fuckwit had just said that.
He's been, there, seen it & the aftermath, & knew exactly how easy it is.
[ He'd spent the war MAKING explosives - drafted in as a "civil servant" ... ]