Monday, 5th February, 2024

[Day 1421]

Today being a Monday, we look forward to our carers coming at 8.00am but we waited in vain. Eventually three turned up at 8.40am but then three turned up together (two regulars and a ‘newbie’ in training) but by this time everything had been done. We got Meg downstairs and breakfasted and then prepared for our trip to Droitwich, which is quite a regular event for us on a Monday morning. Then our University of Birmingham friend phoned up to see if we were free which was a welcome call for us. We decided to go to Droitwich as a threesome which we did, attending our our usual cafe and picking up a copy of ‘The Times‘ en route. Then we had a very pleasant chat and returned home in the late morning. We watched a little of the ‘Politics Live’ program on BBC2 just after midday and then prepared our lunch which consisted of some of the beef joint cooked yesterday, some broccoli and a baked potato.

This afternoon, after one or two false starts, I managed to access the ‘catch up’ of the astounding documentary series which is being broadcast on the events of the Miners’ strike of 1984, evidently 40 years ago now. This film I think it is fair to say was jaw-dropping in what it revealed but I managed to watch it for the second time (but Meg for the first time). A few of the most memorable points are recounted now. At the time, the police made every effort to stop miners joining the picket lines, even turning cars around at the ‘other’ end of a motorway if it was thought that miners were about to join the picket line. But in the ‘Battle for Orgreave’ coking works in the West Midlands, things were very, very different. No miners were turned back but the police were there in massive numbers with mounted horses on two sides of a valley and dogs on a third side. After an initial ‘push’ the police sent in the cavalry and some terrible truncheon damage was inflicted upon the miners fleeing the police. The mass of miners were pushed towards a neighbouring village for good reason – if it could be shown that members of the public were frightened or disturbed by unfolding events, then the miners could be charged with the much more serious offence of ‘riot’ rather than ‘unlawful assembly’ and this more serious offence could result in a gaol sentence of 25 years. The trial itself was a farce. When the police came to give their statements, many were practically identical as the police had been instructed what to write in their notebooks. They all claimed to have seen a barrage of missiles heading towards the police even after the police horses had charged. But the defence team managed to get hold of the police’s own video which did not show any missiles being thrown nor any of the offensive weapons which the police claimed the miners had in their possession. After a while, it became evident that the police were guilty of a mass perjury i.e. each one had lied under oath (but no-one has ever been charged) and faced with the overwhelming evidence of police perjury and concocted statements, the prosecution collapsed, every charge was withdrawn and every one of the nearly 100 miners were acquitted. There are even more shocking revelations insofar as the media were ‘tipped off’ and given prime vantage points on the top of buildings so that the results of the orchestrated confrontation could be filmed. Even the BBC admitted some years after the events that they reversed some of their footage to make it appear that the miners had charged the police who had then responded rather than the reverse which was actually the case. We now have the evidence of some footage shot on the miners’ side of the dispute which shows the police initiating the action against the miners which of course the government was determined to win. So why should all of this matter today so long after the event? The fact remains that even five years ago, the government have repeatedly denied that there is any need for an enquiry despite the emergence of a mass of new video and documentary evidence. One recent commentary put it thus: ‘An Orgreave inquiry is in the public interest in order to put the facts in the public domain and to put an end to years of lies and cover-ups by the Conservative government about the political role they played in orchestrating and managing the pit closure programme in the 1980’s, directing militaristic police operations in an industrial dispute and manipulating the courts and media to manufacture a false narrative to demonise and criminalise workers fighting for their jobs and communities.’

Just when we were hoping that there might be an imminent breakthrough in the Israel/Gaza conflict (or do we call it a war?), news has emerged that a big split within the Hamas movemmnt is preventing the emergence of a peace deal. One would have thought that the Americans could have forced a deal on the Israelis but the latter hold two ‘Trump’ cards (no pun intended) which is not only is it an election year in the US but also that the Americans know that the Israelis (and probably the Iranians as well) are in possession of nuclear weapons which they would not hesitate to use if the very existence of the state of Israel were to be threatened.