Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/814/18762

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 June 2014

30th anniversary of the historic miners' strike

The battle of Orgreave

On Saturday 14 June 2014 there will be a celebration of struggle and resistance marking the 30th anniversary of the great miners' strike. In particular, there will be a mass picnic and festival commemorating events which occurred at the Orgreave coking plant.

The 'battle of Orgreave', on 18 June 1984, involved nearly 10,000 pickets and 4,000 police. Police, including mounted police, attacked the pickets and made 93 arrests, including NUM president Arthur Scargill. Many miners sustained injuries from police truncheons.

Taken to court in 1995, 15 mineworkers proved that the South Yorkshire police - echoing that of the Hillsborough stadium disaster - had significant parts of their evidence dictated to them by another police officer and that an officer's signature on an evidence statement was not genuine.

The 1984-85 miners' dispute was the major episode in the Thatcher government's planned and phased onslaught on the organised working class.

As Ken Smith says in the Socialist Party publication 'A civil war without guns', the British capitalist state used all its resources to smash the powerful and militant NUM: "It was not long after the unprecedented violence at Orgreave, provoked by the police, that Thatcher referred to the miners as the "Enemy Within"... Once started, Orgreave was a battle that neither side could afford to lose.

"Thatcher and the Tories threw everything at it: state forces; propaganda: political pressure on the Labour and trade union leaders and the full force of the legal system against arrested miners.

"Police 'gladiators' were instructed from early on by police officers with loudhailers to "take prisoners".

"In reply the miners mobilised the biggest, most determined, pickets this country has ever seen."

Orgreave mass picnic and festival

Saturday 14 June, 11am - 7pm

Admission free

Catcliffe Recreation Ground, Poplar Way, Catcliffe S60 5TZ

Orgreave truth and justice campaign

orgreavejustice@hotmail.com

http://otjc.org.uk

Secretary Barbara Jackson 0114 2509510


Militant was the forerunner of the Socialist Party. During the course of the 1984-85 strike 500 miners joined Militant after drawing socialist conclusions. This edited extract from Peter Taaffe's book indicates the strategy proposed by Militant, as well as giving a taste of workers' reaction to the horrendous attack by the state on the working class.

Revenge for the Tories' humiliation at the hands of the miners at Saltley Gate in 1972 and more recently in 1981 was taken by the police on the Orgreave picket line (outside Sheffield).

The most brutal methods yet seen in this or any previous dispute were played out in the full view of the world's media. The conflict gave the impression of a virtual civil war in the mining areas of Britain.

Eyewitnesses at an earlier battle reported: "The baton charge has returned. This brutal police method of attacking pickets, synonymous with the industrial battles of the 1920s, has become a standard tactic of today's police... The idea is to hurt people, intimidate people, frighten people."

Even Arthur Scargill was arrested on a trumped-up charge of obstruction...

On the day of the first Orgreave battle there were about 7,000 pickets assembled. Eyewitnesses said: "It was then that the real battle began. It was the most terrifying thing I have been through in my life... What made it worse for me was that this was happening in the village where I'd lived most of my life...

"I saw an elderly miner of about 60 have his head split open by a baton... The riot police would march straight up to you shouting 'one two, one two' and provoking the miners: 'Come on then, have a go'...

"And one snatch squad policeman went too far and got snatched himself! They had to send police horses in to get him back - he was in a far from healthy state when he emerged from the picket."

A group of miners from the North East writing later in Militant about their experiences at the battle at Orgeave commented: "They were treating us like animals, chasing us with dogs and horses. Some pickets outside the plant had been shoved into this field - it was completely flattened, concrete lamp posts and walls crushed. Lads were coming away crying, heads bleeding, bruises all over their backs, some having to be carried..."

Brutality

These brutal scenes at Orgreave, together with similar scenes that were enacted in numerous pit villages throughout the coalfields, laid bare before the miners and working class as a whole the nature of the capitalist state.

An army of occupation descended on the coal fields, particularly in the heartland of the strike, the Yorkshire coalfield.

Such actions changed forever the consciousness of workers, particularly the miners. Because of this Militant's ideas found a powerful echo.

It shared with and assisted in all the struggles of the miners but at the same time put forward a strategy which it considered was capable of ensuring victory.

Following the first battle of Orgreave (6 June) Militant advised that at local level, direct approaches should be made, backed up by arguments and mass leafleting, to steelworkers, lorry drivers and power station workers. The leaders of the TGWU and the ISTC (steelworkers union) should back up this campaign with a national internal drive in support of the miners.

Wherever possible mass meetings should be organised and a call for solidarity, addressed by striking miners... Conferences of shop stewards should be organised, specifically to prepare for solidarity action. These conferences should be called either directly by the NUM, by local trades councils or by the Broad Left Organising Committee.

This strike also now demands national action and a national coordinated drive for solidarity by the Trades Union Congress. It would be naive however to put too much faith in the TUC. The left unions should therefore come together independently to organise solidarity.

At the same time Militant believed that the NUM could put before such a conference in detail all that was needed in solidarity action, to stop the movement of coal and win this strike.

High on the agenda of such a conference would be the calling of a one-day general strike. It would result in a magnificent show of strength of the entire labour movement around the miners and prepare the way for an historic victory.


Socialist Books - special offer

A Civil War Without Guns - the lessons of the 1984-85 miners' strike by Ken Smith, 7.00

The rise of Militant by Peter Taaffe, 9.99

Both books for only 15 including postage

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 11 June 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

NHS: Private profit kills

Newark byelection: capitalist parties in crisis

'Trojan Horse': who is attacking education?

World Cup carnival can't hide corruption and injustice

Them & Us


Anniversaries

Tiananmen Square 1989

The battle of Orgreave


International socialist news and analysis

Spain: European elections redefine political map

Greece: CWI councillors elected


Socialist Party workplace news

10 July: United action can beat austerity

Bakers' union calls for general strike

Unison: No waiting for Labour - fight the job cuts

Housing workers strike against rep suspension

Firefighters to walk out for 24-hours

Care UK workers continue dispute

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Now is the time to join the Socialists!

Why I'm a socialist

Stevenage: EDL not welcome here

Cuts consensus: Labour joins with Ukip to back Tory council


Readers' comments and reviews

Ken Loach's Jimmy's Hall

Obituary: George Duff


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 June 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Miners:

triangleDurham Miners' Gala

triangle35th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave

triangleOrgreave injustice - 35th anniversary march and rally

triangleLessons of the heroic 1984-85 Miners' strike

triangleObituary Joan Beale - Labour women's activist and Militant supporter

Orgreave:

triangleOrgreave - no justice, no peace

triangleIn the words of Amber Rudd, "no one died at Orgreave"

triangleTory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

triangleOrgreave campaigners' Halloween 'Death of Justice' march

Strike:

triangleEarth Strike

trianglePro-democracy protests continue to rage

triangleBradford: All-out action to defeat backdoor NHS privatisation

Police:

triangleInterview: protests over killing in Israel

triangleStonewall riots' legacy shows need for socialist struggle to win LGBT+ liberation

Militant:

triangleObituary: Pauline Dunlop (1947-2019)

Historic events

Historic events

14/8/19

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland, August '69: 'Battle of the Bogside' and British troops on the streets

14/8/19

Peterloo

The Peterloo Massacre 1819: When a fearful ruling class tried to crush working-class political aspirations

17/7/19

Leicester

The 45th anniversary of the strike

17/7/19

US

50 years since Apollo 11 - 'One giant leap': how political conflict launched the moon landing

3/7/19

LGBT

Stonewall riots' legacy shows need for socialist struggle to win LGBT+ liberation

26/6/19

Orgreave

35th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave

5/6/19

Tiananmen Square

The Tiananmen Square massacre - 30 years on

3/4/19

Nuclear power

40 years after Three Mile Island disaster

27/3/19

Visteon

Visteon: when factory occupations stayed the hands of the bosses

27/3/19

Miners

Lessons of the heroic 1984-85 Miners' strike

6/3/19

Trotsky

Leon Trotsky's struggle against Stalinism

6/2/19

Iran

40 years since the Iranian revolution: Learning the lessons for today's new working-class struggles

23/1/19

Cuba

Cuban revolution at 60: defend the gains and fight for workers' democracy

16/1/19

Winter of Discontent

The 1979 'Winter of Discontent'

9/1/19

Rosa Luxemburg

Heroic martyrs of German Revolution

triangleMore Historic events articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999