New revelations about police brutality under Thatcher in the seminal 1984 battle against striking union miners.
Among British ex-miners, the infamous June 18, 1984 battle between
striking coal miners and police at the Orgreave coking plant in South
Yorkshire, is still bitterly invoked as a symbol of then-Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher’s campaign against union miners, whom she famously
called “the enemy within.” The yearlong strike ultimately marked the
beginning of the decline of Britain’s nationalized coal industry, and
the economic and social deterioration of coalfield communities.
Almost three decades later, a BBC documentary
has directed new attention to the 1984 “battle of Orgreave” and to
police behavior throughout the strike. Released in October, the
documentary presents new evidence indicating that the South Yorkshire
police conspired to crush the strike through fabricated arrest reports
and systematic brutality.
In response, at the behest of the South Yorkshire police department
itself, the U.K. Independent Police Complaints Commission launched an
investigation in November into possible police “assault, perjury,
perverting the course of justice and misconduct” during the battle, as
the UK Guardian described it. (In December, the Guardian ran a special report on police brutality and false arrests throughout the conflict.)