Orgreave: Miners Strike


The Justice for Mineworkers Campaign

Ogreave Coking Plant in South Yorkshire occupies a prominent part in British labour movement history because of a momentous confrontation between picketing NUM members and the British police during the 1984/85 miners' strike – the battle of Orgreave.

The television footage from that day is still played on British TV as a defining image of the strike.
But what is never revealed is the fact that:

The TV footage shown was a lie, and a lie that has since been admitted by the BBC.

The images that persist are of NUM members hurling bricks, bottles and anything to hand at the 'unprovoked' British bobbies, who then retaliate with a mass charge in 'self defence'. However, the BBC, whose film of the confrontation was broadcast to the nation (and beyond), have since admitted that they reversed the order of events:
The original film shows the mounted police attacking first, forcing the miners to defend themselves, and not the other way round.[What happened next]

Here is the text of the BBC letter of acknowledgement issued on 3/7/91:
"The BBC acknowledged some years ago that it made a mistake over our sequence of events at Orgreave. We accepted without question that it was serious, but emphasized that it was a mistake made in the haste of putting the news together. 
.....The end result was that the editor inadvertently reversed the occurrence of the actions of the police and the pickets."    
(From BBC management) 
Now this would be acceptable – if it were true – but Tony Benn, a Member of Parliament at the time, and who was at Orgreave that day, remembered something different when interviewed for a re-enactment of Orgreave made for Channel Four television. He recalls speaking to NUJ journalists at the time and recalled them as being:

"furious that they were ordered to transpose the sequence of events for the news that night"

To commemorate the seventeenth anniversary of Orgreave, a reenactment of the day's events was shown on British TV on Sunday October 20th, 2002, and this has gone some way to correcting the public's perception of that fateful day. Many might find the idea of an re-enactment of a mere trade union confrontation a bit odd, usually associating such stunts with battles from key moments in British history such as the English Civil War or the Wars of the Roses.

But for those who were there, on a day when the full might of the state was lined up against a contingent of the working class who'd come, at least initially, for a peaceful picket, no word other than 'battle' will be adequate to describe what happened. [More]

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