Halloween will be a protest night in Sheffield this year, with a zombie march to the law courts. They’re railing against the undead ghost of Mrs Thatcher for an injustice which cannot be laid to rest until the truth comes out. The so-called Battle of Orgreave was no battle. It was a deliberate, planned attack by order of the government, a flash point in their massacre of trade union activism.

A document, leaked to the press in 1978 and later known as the Ridley Plan after Conservative MP Nicholas Ridley, set out a blueprint for reshaping power structures within Britain’s economy. Its combative attitude shows the tactics of the manipulator: “One political objective must be to fragment the public sector of industry into a number of independent units, which could eventually be denationalised […] preparing the industries for partial return to the private sector, more or less by stealth. First we should destroy the statutory monopolies […] but this nasty little Bill is the only legislation called for.”

The following year Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister and the cunning plans were laid. The Miners’ Strike was forced by a cruel pit closure programme, calculated to hit the leftwing National Union of Mineworkers financially and legally, below the belt if necessary. Police forces from across the country were mobilised as an anti-union army to taunt, trap and batter protesting strikers.

The Orgreave incident in 1984 ended with many miners injured and arrested. No police were ever charged. Instead the violence was falsely blamed on the strikers by the Government and compliant media. Years later, a report concluded that one side was doing the beating up that day: South Yorkshire Police, acting under orders from above. The official denial of responsibility was exposed when police statements revealed they’d been coached as witnesses in court. It didn’t add up to the whole truth.

Mass unemployment in the coalmining areas resulted from Thatcher’s rushed pit closures. With no immediate help for communities affected, drug abuse, boredom and crime surged. Newly-brazen employers blacklisted union members and brought in sharp practices, like zero-hour contracts. The spirit of working-class solidarity that once soared through our communities lay wounded in the coal dust.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign never gave up hope for a full inquiry. They were petitioning Theresa May when she became Prime Minister. Attention switched to Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, who gave her answer on Halloween 2016: there will be no public inquiry, because “there were no deaths or wrongful convictions”. An old South Yorkshire ex-miner stood up at a press conference, saying this callous conclusion was no surprise from the “old monsters and ghosts of the Tory party,” responsible for injustice then and now. The idea was born – Halloween as the night of the Death of Justice, a powerful statement of disgust.

On 31 October 2017 from 5:30pm, an assembly at Devonshire Green will march with a samba band and circus performers – zombies welcome – then off to Shakespeares pub for a night of spoken word and music. The OTJC website includes the route details, materials like posters and badges to buy or download, and details of a film screening, also this month.

After the Hillsborough and Rotherham scandals were exposed, campaigners are determined this fight will grow into a nightmare for the Tories, until there’s justice for Orgreave. Join them. Don’t be scared.

otjc.org.uk  | alt-sheff.org


Zero Carbon Yorkshire: Make It Happen! Weekend

28-29 Oct | All over Yorkshire
Over one weekend, committed climate activists from across the region will be putting together a technically feasible vision for zero carbon by 2040. There will be economic, political and psychological challenges, but it’s got to be done. It’s too important to leave to politicians.
zerocarbonyorkshire.org/blog

Melanin Fest
Throughout October | Various venues in Sheffield
Last year two local women, over biscuits and Yorkshire tea, began a loving exploration of cultural identity, Black history and everyday issues for people of colour. This year they offer a month of poetry, open mic, art, dance, music, drama, talks and film. People of all ages, races and religions are welcome.
ourmel.org.uk

Hosted by Alt-Sheff