Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Battle For Orgreave

And whilst we're on the subject of the miners strike...

"First they came for the communists, and I did nothing because I wasn't a Communist. Next they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak up because I wasn't a Trade Unionist. Next they came for the Catholics, but I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Finally they came for me and, by then, there was no one left to speak for me"

This celebrated quote from Pastor Niemoller of the Lutheran Church on Hitler's Germany and the rise of Fascism kept returning to my mind when watching The Battle for Orgreave, Yvette Vanson's 1985 crusading documentary which showcased the astonishing first hand account from the miners who suffered from the violent military style policing at the Orgreave protest in June 1984 which led them to a forty-eight day trial charged with rioting, the punishment for which was set to be a life sentence. There is also accounts from their solicitors and the impartial parties who also suffered at the hands of the police that day.

The film reminds me of Niemoller's quote because, as one miner comments in the film, the State had trained, rehearsed, applied and perfected this brutal heavy handed policing tactic in Northern Ireland  and in the riots of Brixton and Toxteth long before the miners in '84 and, watching this documentary now with thirty years between us, we now know just how ruthless the Tory run State would be in its desire to keep the working classes down and stitch them up as 'the enemy within'; next they came for the striking printworkers at Fortress Wapping a year after Vanson's film, then they came for the Poll Tax rioters and - as we're seeing more and more of now - they came to cover up and falsify witness statement to cover their arses at the disastrous mismanagement at Hillsborough. 

We live in a capitalist State whose principle desire to protect the interests of a minority is to erode the working class majority's natural Socialism in order to stop them from rising up and revolting. For Arthur Scargill, given the last word here, he believed - like Niemoller - they would come again for the NUM and that they had one last decisive battle left for them in which the Labour movement and fellow Trade Unionists had to join in with or else no one would be there for them when their own time came. History however has told us that the NUM and the Coal industry in general was crushed from '84 onwards and that it was the Labour Party itself who ultimately dispensed with the Socialism that shaped its framework by removing Clause IV from the manifesto in 1995 and successfully shaping a sheep based society captivated by small pleasures and comfort or, what Lenin called, momentary interest such as celebrity culture. 

But it is documentaries like this that remind us of the real, astonishing truth; of innocent men and woman brutally cajoled and attacked by the might of those who are supposed to be employed as our protection. It happened, and if we ever let the scales fall from our eyes and stand up and protest once more it most certainly will happen again. 

Yvette Vanson's 50 minute film can be seen on YouTube 

and also at her own site here, whilst the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign has a very interesting website I urge you to take a look at here. They welcome donations to support their quest for truth, or you can buy a t-shirt like I have.

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