HALLOWEEN IS WHEN THE GHOULS AND DEMONS are supposed to leave their graves and cast their evil spells. Amber Rudd, Tory Home Secretary, made sure this year’s Halloween was a bit special.
The Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign had been invited by previous Home Secretary, Theresa May, to submit a request for a public enquiry into the police riot at Orgreave during the Miners’ Strike of 1984/85. Hours of painstaking work followed with our lawyers working late into many nights, all pro bono, to produce a legal document making the case.
Theresa May had addressed the Police Federation, stating, “Justice: it’s what you deal in. It’s your business. And, you, the police are its custodians.” A number of seemingly positive meetings, firstly with May and then with Rudd, seemed to indicate that it was not a question of if there would be an inquiry, but what type it would be. We were promised a decision would be conveyed to us “prior to any announcement, and before the end of October”.
Having heard nothing at all, on October 31st a group of us travelled to London. We went to the Home Office, only to be told to leave as it is private property. Waiting on the pavement, we were eventually told by the media that the announcement would be made as part of routine Home Office questions. Dashing over to the Commons we waited in a room with no contact from Rudd at all.
Eventually a text from a journalist told us that there would be no inquiry. It transpired that the definition of “prior to any announcement” meant reading out a prepared statement over the phone to the Campaign’s secretary just 45 minutes before that announcement.
“Nobody died......lessons have been learned.....policing is different today” were among the reasons she gave but the most telling was that “it is not in the national interest”. By “national interest” she means the Tory Party’s interest.
After Norman Tebbit was taken out of his crypt to denounce any possible inquiry, it was obvious that the truth of how the Thatcher government declared war on my union and used the whole state machine to break the strike must never see the light of day. There is too much at stake for the truth to come out!
So what next? We are miners who fought for a whole year, we were beaten, framed and victimised - but we do not run away. Our industry may have gone, our communities abandoned but we are still here, still fighting, still proud.
We will have our day, watch this space!