Thirty years ago in June saw a defining moment of the Miners Strike. Mark Perryman explains why London is due to host an anniversary truth and justice benefit concert
Orgreave, Yorkshire, 18 June 1984. The mass picket vs the massed police. Four months into the dispute this in many ways was the Miners Strike's defining moment. The scenes of police brutality were graphic enough, none more so than a mounted police officer with baton raised galloping down a woman. Yet the solidarity, it helped inspire in response particularly at the following Christmas from metropolitan Britain, complete with convoys of trucks, vans and carloads of supporters bringing some cheer to the beleaguered coalfield communities never ignited the political support and industrial action the miners needed to win.
The pickets at Orgreave were prosecuted in huge numbers, allowing a media discourse of violence to shape how many viewed the dispute. Investigative work by their defence lawyers led to almost every charge being dropped against the miners, those which did end up in court in the vast majority of cases cleared too. But the damage, as the police knew full well, had already been done. Many of the officers involved in engineering this injustice five years later doing the same dirty work in the cover-up and smears of Hillsborough.
Thirty years on, just like for Hillsborough, a campaign for Orgreave Truth and Justice . A campaign not only to right a wrong but to connect the issues from thirty years ago to the politics and generations of today.
In a bold move the campaign on the 30th anniversary of Orgreave, in June will be coming to London. A city at the core of the metropolitan solidarity with the miners, a London then of Red Ken, the GLC, Lesbians and Gays support the Miners, benefit gigs almost every weekend, alternative comedy, third wave feminists in solidarity with Women against Pit Closures, enormous Miners Support Groups in Hackney, Lambeth, Islington and elsewhere twinned with faraway pit villages.
The Orgreave Anniversary concert has been organised by the doyens of socialist r n' b Thee Faction with straight out of Yorkshire The Hurriers . And Philosophy Football are footing the bill to ensure every penny from ticket sales goes to the cause, 100% solidarity! The night promises a retro bill including Attila the Stockbroker, TV Smith, Robb Johnson plus current protest posters Chris T-T and adding her own distinctive voice the incomparable culinary sensation that is Jack Monroe.
Wednesday 18 June, The Buffalo Bar , 259 Upper Street, London N1. Doors 7.30pm
Tickets in advance (two thirds sold already) Just £9, or solidarity price £20 from Philosophy Football or call 01273 472 721 to book.
Mark Perryman is a member of both the Labour Party and Momentum. Co-founder of the self-styled ‘sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction’ aka Philosophy Football, he has also edited numerous books on the politics of the Left. The latest is Corbynism from Below and is published by Lawrence & Wishart, available to order from here.