Wednesday, 2 November 2016

We need more than an Ogreave enquiry but also how the Police were politicised by the Thatcher Government

Campaigners have called on the BBC to apologise for the way it covered a clash between striking miners and police at Orgreave 30 years ago.

The corporation broadcast footage of a police charge and miners throwing missiles in the wrong order, campaigners said.

About 10,000 miners and 5,000 police officers were involved in the clash in South Yorkshire on 18 June 1984.

The BBC said it had 

"no evidence of any deliberate attempt to mislead viewers".
Really  are we really expected to believe that  it was simply an error.

Press and television coverage almost universally condemned pickets. BBC viewers on the day were shown police responding to missiles being thrown at them by charging the assembled crowd on horseback wielding batons. In fact the battle scene had been reversed and, in 1991, the BBC issued an apology, claiming its action footage had been “inadvertently reversed”.Charged with riot and unlawful assembly, the 95 arrested faced lengthy prison sentences. However, when the first 15 appeared at Sheffield Crown Court in 1985 their trial collapsed when it became clear the police’s oral and written evidence was unreliable.Each prosecution had been supported by two police officers making nearly identical statements.All charges against pickets were later dropped. Subsequently, South Yorkshire Police (SYP) paid out £425,000 compensation to 39 pickets in out of court settlements.Despite claims by miners that it was they that had been violently attacked by the police no new investigation was undertaken and no officer was charged.The IPCC is now examining allegations of assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.
Home Secretaty Amber Rudd told the House of Commons that she arrived at the "difficult decision" because "ultimately there were no deaths or wrongful convictions" arising from the violent encounter at the coking works in South Yorkshire.

These are weasel words as there were no convictions because it was  blatantly clear to the courts at the time that the Police had lied.

The failure of the Prosecution of 95 men who faced Prison sentences  should have triggered an enquiry there and them
Speaking as part of BBC Radio Sheffield's documentary Auntie and the Miners,Barbara Jackson, secretary of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign said
"I think they owe us an apology over the particular incident when the Orgreave footage was reversed." "I think the media in general need to apologise for the way they portrayed the miners who were on strike, their families and their communities and the way they never grappled with the issue of jobs and communities and the future of what had been a major industry in this country.
"But apologies are very difficult to get out of people and sincere apologies are even more difficult to get out of people."
 Echoing Mrs Jackson's comments Nicholas Jones, the BBC's industrial correspondent for radio at the time of the strike, said: 

"I think there's no doubt that perhaps there should be some sort of collective apology by the media for what happened
 A spokesman for the BBC said: 

"Thirty years on, it is difficult to reach definitive conclusions, but our investigations have uncovered no evidence of any deliberate attempt to mislead viewers in the coverage of the Battle of Orgreave."
He said the BBC had 
"failed to record some of the violence due to a camera error".
Minutes from an editorial meeting the day after the clashes record that concerns were raised about impartiality in some of the coverage, he said.
But they appeared to conclude that any problem amounted to a "marginal imbalance" and did not justify the NUM's claims of BBC bias.
Reporting on the findings of the Saville Inquiry in the House of Commons into Bloody Sunday , the British Prime Minister David Cameron said:
"Mr Speaker,
 I am deeply patriotic. I never want to believe anything bad about our country. I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our army, who I believe to be the finest in the world. And I have seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve. But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt, there is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong."

David Cameron also found himself saying "profoundly sorry" for the failures that caused the Hillsborough disaster and the subsequent attempts to shift blame for the tragedy on to supporters after the publication of a damning report on the events 23 years ago that left 96 dead.
Speaking in the Commons  the prime minister said the findings in the report were "deeply distressing". He said: "
With the weight of the new evidence in the report it's right for me today as prime minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 … On behalf of the government, and indeed of our country, I am profoundly sorry that this double injustice has been left uncorrected for so long."
But do not expect  Ogreave to receive an  similar apology in the future. This was not a result of errors made on the day

The resistance to such an enquiry would  expose that Ogreave was the result of a coordinated action by the Thatcher Government at the time , with the help of  the Media and and  resulted in the Depoliticising of our Police Force where they were used not to keep the peace but to defeat the Miners  who were on strike .

Ogreave was a shining example of this but there are numerous stories throughout  the Strike of the Police role changing to that of the agents of government .to the extent they were labelled  as Maggie's boot boys  a title some gloried in.


  1. Well said, Thatcher’s toxic legacy continues to haunt the UK long after he disastrous tenure as PM.

    What happened at Orgreave was deeply troubling, the outworking’s of a Tory Government not only aimed at politicizing the police and smashing Union power, but covertly using the Army as soldiers we in Police Uniform that day being used against the civilian population, something we associate with military juntas in basket case countries.

    And talking of Orgeave UKIP revealed their true colours in the Senedd yesterday as Gareth Bennett, he of rubbish is caused by foreigner’s infamy attacked the Orgreave miners and sided with the Tory Government. So much for UKIP being outsiders, more establishment stooges

    1. Your link to Bennett's reactionary ranting is very apposite anon. There is much about ukip which is profoundly anti working class - it's support for privatising much of the nhs, its support for grammar schools and its long standing hostility to trade unions and workers rights. We need to open ordinary peoples eyes to the real nature of ukip.