By Peter Lazenby in Britain:
What did you do Mister radical?
Thursday 28th July 2016
Justice for Orgreave campaigner confronts Owen Smith over miner solidarity talk
AN EX-MINER confronted Labour leadership pretender Owen Smith yesterday and accused him of exploiting the tragedy of Orgreave by choosing to stage a media conference there in his bid to oust Jeremy Corbyn.
Orgreave campaigner John Dunn also accused Mr Smith of shamelessly copying policies put forward by Jeremy Corbyn and claiming them as his own.
The event included an announcement by Mr Smith that he would introduce a Ministry of Labour if he led a Labour government — a proposal put forward by Jeremy Corbyn and reported in the Morning Star last year.
Orgreave, where the police brutally attacked miners during the 1984-5 strike against pit closures, is now an industrial estate.
But as Mr Smith left Mr Dunn confronted him and scolded him for using the tragedy as part of his leadership bid.
Mr Dunn worked at Markham colliery in Derbyshire before being sacked in 1990.
He told the Morning Star: “Owen Smith was staging a publicity stunt.
“I went up as an individual and politely asked him as a former striking miner to stop exploiting our struggle.
“He talked about his own mining heritage and tried to pass that off on me, so I told him that while he was making a pharmaceutical company rich we were struggling after the strike.”
Mr Dunn said he also asked Mr Smith why he had not signed a Commons early day motion calling for a public inquiry into what happened at Orgreave.
“His aides hustled him into his car and he wound the window up,” said Mr Dunn.
Earlier, in his address, Mr Smith shamelessly copied a series of policies which had been declared months earlier by Jeremy Corbyn and his team — and others from progressive group the Institute of Employment Rights (IER).
Mr Corbyn’s office graciously welcomed Mr Smith’s conversion to the Labour leader’s socialist policies.
A spokesperson said: “We are delighted that he has echoed John McDonnell’s call for the reinstatement of a Ministry of Labour, made last month at the IER, and Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a ban on exclusive workforce recruitment from abroad, made during the referendum campaign, among other policies.
“Owen’s speech shows the leadership that Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated in placing economic justice and fairness back at the heart of Labour politics.”
IER director Carolyn Jones said: “We are pleased yet another Labour MP has adopted some of our ideas.”
IER chairman John Hendy QC added: “Our proposals for a Ministry of Labour will provide a voice for 31 million workers at the heart of government.”
When challenged, Mr Smith said that Mr McDonnell’s call for a Ministry of Labour had “passed [him] by.”
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We welcome Owen Smith’s decision to speak out for working people, but this Damascene conversion must be greeted with caution given that just one year ago he supported the public-sector pay freeze, which is now affecting our firefighter members for the sixth consecutive year.”
Jeremy Corbyn can stay on Labour leadership ballot, High Court rules. Corbyn: ‘This has been a waste of time and resources when our party should be focused on holding the Government to account’: here.
The articles on Orgreave and the government’s reasons for refusing a public inquiry over the last week or so have been among the most widely read in this blog’s history. As a result of them, a number of people have contacted the author with their own accounts bearing directly on the official portrayal of events, with a particular focus on the involvement of armed forces personnel illegally masquerading as police officers: here.
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign continues to seek to expose those responsible for a brutal state attack on workers. Kate Flannery brings us up to date: here.
Case for inquiry into police violence at Orgreave stronger than ever, GMB general secretary says: here.
THOUSANDS of trade unionists and their families will today mark the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike 35th Anniversary at the Annual Orgreave Rally in Sheffield. June 18 1984 saw the second battle of Orgreave, when 10,000 pickets, seeking to prevent lorries leaving the coking plant near Sheffield, were met by a 6,000-strong contingent of police drafted in from all over the country. Striking miners in jeans, T-shirts and pumps were met with a massive force of uniformed, mounted police and riot police with batons and shields, and police with dogs. Some described the scene as being like a medieval battle, others said it had echoes of the Peterloo Massacre when the hussars brandishing swords weighed into an unarmed pro-democracy protest in Manchester: here.
Thursday 28th July 2016
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain
OWEN SMITH came under fire yesterday after he said he was “pained” that Jeremy Corbyn did not “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels” at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Critics say the gaffe was just the latest in a string of misogynist remarks made by the Labour leadership challenger.
When questioned after his speech, Mr Smith said he “absolutely” stood by his comments, saying: “We should be smashing the Tories back on their heels.
“I don’t want to literally smash Theresa May back. Just to be clear. I am not advocating violence in any way shape or form.”
But a spokeswoman for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign said: “We need to be careful of the language we use during this contest as many members, including many female Labour MPs, have said they feel intimidated by aggressive language.
“Jeremy has consistently called for a kinder, gentler politics. We should all reflect that in our political rhetoric.”
2015: In an outburst caught on camera before the ITV Wales general election debate, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood protested when Owen Smith suggested she was invited onto the BBC discussion programme too often. But Smith, then shadow Wales secretary, muttered: ‘I think your gender helps.’
2010: New MP Smith was forced to apologise after comparing spending cuts to domestic violence. ‘Surely,’ he wrote in a blog post, ‘the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?’
2006: A candidate in the Blaenau Gwent by-election, Smith said constituency Labour parties should be allowed to veto all-women shortlists. ‘Labour needs to be sufficiently flexible and sufficiently big to be able to listen to local opinion,’ he told the Western Mail.
Thursday 28th July 2016
posted by Morning Star in Britain
A LABOUR MP central to the plot to remove Jeremy Corbyn yesterday denied he had misled party members about sending his daughter to a private school.
When hoping to be selected for his Aberavon seat, Stephen Kinnock said it was “highly misleading” to say his daughter had attended a private school, saying: “It gives the impression that she was going to somewhere like Eton or Harrow.”
He said parents at the school in question paid “fees of around £80 a month” and that 17-year-old Johanna subsequently moved back to a state school.
But yesterday it emerged that Johanna was enrolled at another private boarding school at the time — the £28,000-a-year Atlantic College in south Wales.
Thursday 28th July 2016
posted by Morning Star in Features
It has become clear to Labour Party members that the very people who are calling for ‘effective leadership’ could not run a bath themselves, writes Matthew Turner
A month is a long time in post-Brexit politics, but at least there is one constant amid the chaos: the incompetence exhibited by those enacting the self-serving, anti-democratic coup against Jeremy Corbyn.
After all it was only a fortnight ago that at a Corbyn rally in Kentish Town shadow chancellor John McDonnell branded the Labour plotters “fucking useless.” While the undiplomatic language was not really necessary, it is important to emphasise that McDonnell was simply telling the truth.
Those plotting to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party will have an abundance of excuses at their disposal for their inevitable defeat, just like they did last year when he won the largest democratic mandate of any leader in British political history.
The truth is, however, that they will only have themselves to blame. Some of the Labour right will blame entryism from the likes of the Socialist Workers Party, whose entire membership does not even surpass 2 per cent of the 183,000 who have signed up for a vote in the Labour leadership election.
In reality, Corbyn’s leadership has enticed a coalition of hundreds of thousands of new members, some who are getting involved in political activism for the first time, but also an earlier generation of activists who abandoned Labour during the Blair years.
Moreover, they will not lose because Labour Party members are captivated by Corbyn. The fundamental reason behind why they will lose is that their actions over the past month have shown members of the Labour Party who the real ideologues are. They have shown themselves up to be unfit to lead the party themselves.
From the very beginning of this unmitigated disaster, it has reeked of incompetence. For weeks after the EU referendum — the supposed cause of this botched coup — there was no evident plan or strategy from the plotters besides trying to bully Corbyn out of his position.
In Diane Abbott’s article for the Guardian, she claimed that the first Parliamentary Labour Party meeting since the coup started was based around “breaking him (Corbyn) as a man.” The hypocrisy of MPs using him as a verbal punching bag when they could not even persuade their own constituencies to vote Remain in the referendum is preposterous and absurd.
This barrage of hatred was the only card that the coup plotters could play that stood a chance of succeeding, but Corbyn standing firm against all of this immediately contradicted the plotters’ main complaint — his supposed weakness. Instead of Corbyn resigning, the nasty, anti-democratic nature of the coup has resulted in a huge boom in membership and registered supporters, most of which are intent of defending Corbyn and fighting for socialist policies in the Labour Party.
After threatening to challenge Corbyn and trying to call his bluff for weeks, we were then introduced to the Labour right’s candidate of choice Angela Eagle. Despite claiming tearfully that it was Hilary Benn’s sacking and the EU referendum defeat that pushed her to resign, the domain name for her leadership campaign was already paid for before the ousting of Benn as shadow foreign secretary.
In fact, some news outlets were speculating that she was going to challenge Corbyn a whole 90 days before the EU referendum even took place.
Her disastrous voting record is an oath to a neoliberal New Labour and this meant that she was never going to make a dent in his support — this was confirmed by her disastrous campaign launch comically absent of journalists and subsequent amateurish media appearances.
There was then a last-ditch attempt by the Labour establishment to keep Corbyn off the ballot through the National Executive Committee, but they voted to automatically include him on ballot.
Despite disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of new members by enforcing a cut-off date for eligibility to vote and pricing out the young and the working class by rising the registered supporter fee to £25, over 183,000 people signed up to vote in 48 hours. It has been speculated that the vast majority of these new supporters joined to support Corbyn. Once again, an attempt to rig the system against Corbyn’s leadership backfired spectacularly.
After Eagle stumbled and swiftly dropped out of the race, it is now down to forgettable ex-Pfizer lobbyist Owen Smith to bring the fight to Corbyn.
Smith has magically reinvented himself as a pioneer of the Labour left in the last 10 days in an attempt to make the membership swoon. It would be a testament to his public relations experience if it wasn’t viewed by most Labour members as transparent and opportunistic.
His previous support for the private finance initiative (PFI), academies and benefit caps as well as his commitment to a second referendum on Theresa May’s Brexit deal will make no inroads in winning back the working-class heartlands Labour needs for a victory in the next general election.
Furthermore, Labour MP John Mann claimed that he was approached by someone seeking his support for Smith’s leadership bid six months ago — once again proving that the coup has been in preparation for much longer than Smith would like to admit.
The fact that such a derisory and incompetent planning took so long makes it even more embarrassing. It has become clear to party members that the very people who are calling for “effective leadership” could not run a bath themselves.
To defeat Corbyn they needed to prove to members that they are fit to lead. Instead, their self-serving insolence has proven exactly the opposite. Corbyn’s stunning victory last year showed that the Parliamentary Labour Party were lacking in talent, effective policies and a bold vision for the country.
It is clear from this risible shambles of a coup that not much has changed.
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Tuesday 11th October 2016
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain
POLICE were instructed to use “as much force as possible” against pickets at the Battle of Orgreave, according to damning testimony yesterday from an officer who was there.
The unnamed Merseyside officer told the BBC that senior officers “were relishing” the tussle with miners striking to defend their pits, their jobs and their communities in 1984.
Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign secretary Barbara Jackson welcomed the latest testimony, telling the Star she hoped it would encourage other police officers to come forward.
The campaign is calling for a public inquiry into the police operation at the Orgreave coking plant, where peaceful pickets were met with thousands of violent coppers drafted in to smash the miners.
The officer said “senior police were anticipating trouble and in some ways relishing it.
“It was a licence to do what we wanted, which I didn’t think was right because we didn’t know what was going to happen.”
He said officers had been ordered to charge a largely peaceful crowd.
“There were running battles and miners were falling over and police officers were batoning them,” the officer said.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was just seeing police officers attack people. These were people on the ground and even if they weren’t doing anything — just walking away — police officers had their batons and they were just hitting people.”
Ms Jackson, who was on strike for a year as a National Coal Board office worker, said: “It is confirmation of what the miners, their families and their supporters have always said — that the police were out of control on that day.
“It strengthens our case for a public inquiry — each little piece of the jigsaw helps us, just as it helped the Hillsborough campaigners.”
Wednesday 2nd November 2016
posted by Morning Star in Editorial
AMBER RUDD’S decision to dodge Andy Burnham’s questioning over Orgreave by absenting herself from the House of Commons illustrates that she knows she’s on dodgy ground.
Whatever ministers say now, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) members recall that Rudd told them that an inquiry would be held, with only its form left open.
The Home Secretary’s announcement on Monday left campaigners and observers flabbergasted, wondering what might have changed since she met them in September.
OTJC secretary Barbara Jackson suspects that the unwelcome reappearance of Norman Tebbit — once dubbed “a semi-house-trained polecat” by late Labour leader Michael Foot — could have tipped the balance.
His observation that the police behaved pretty well during the strike and that violence was caused by picketing mineworkers echoes the propaganda that he and fellow Tory ministers spewed out to the ever-eager right-wing media throughout the strike.
It falls readily into the Mandy Rice-Davies commentary mould — “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”
Tebbit was up to his neck, as a member of Thatcher’s inner circle, in the Establishment’s battle to transform the public image of miners from courageous people worthy of respect to “the enemy within.”
He is not alone in revisiting the anti-miner smears of 1984-5 vintage, joined by Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies who told Parliament: “People who didn’t contribute to the miners’ strike had their windows done in.”
Davies persists with the lie that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was “trying to bring down the democratically elected government at the time.”
It wasn’t. It was trying to defeat a government hell-bent on mobilising all the powers of the state to close down viable pits, wipe out miners’ jobs and destroy mining communities.
NUM claims about the extent of planned pit closures were ridiculed by politicians and media alike then, but history vindicated the union’s assessment as the Tory government closed even more than the NUM had forecast. Systematic lying was the stock-in-trade of Margaret Thatcher’s government, egged on by Rupert Murdoch’s empire and most other media outlets.
That’s why the OTJC insists on the need for an inquiry. Truth must out, as it finally did with Hillsborough.
If Rudd believes that leaving junior minister Brandon Lewis alone to face flak from the opposition benches will assuage the thirst for truth, she has learnt nothing from the tenacity of the JF96 campaigners.
She will also have to learn that words carry implications.
Her comment, repeated in Parliament by Lewis, that there is no reason for an inquiry because no-one was killed or wrongfully imprisoned is crass in the extreme.
Miners and their families suffered a catalogue of injustices during the strike, as their characters were impugned by people not fit to clean their boots.
Burnham’s amplification of the point made by NUM leader Chris Kitchen in yesterday’s Morning Star — namely that all manner of misdeeds can be left uninvestigated as long as there are, “quote: ‘no deaths’” — will return to haunt Rudd throughout her political career.
When Theresa May entered Number 10 in July, she pledged to “make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.”
If this promise is to be anything but the usual old flannel that politicians trot out before doing business as usual, she has a duty to those injured at Orgreave, those beaten, arrested, sacked and traduced to order an inquiry. Conspiracy, concoction of evidence and perjury cannot just be swept under the carpet.
Friday 3rd February 2017
posted by Morning Star in Britain
BARNSLEY councillors called on Home Secretary Amber Rudd yesterday to stop blocking a public inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave.
The motion on the brutal police attack on pickets during the 1984-85 miners’ strike was passed unopposed, with just the council’s four Tories abstaining.
Barnsley has now become the sixth northern council to make the call to Ms Rudd, who went back on a pledge to instigate an inquiry last year.
Councillor Mick Stowe said: “It seems that the Home Secretary refuses to recognise the impact her decision has had on many of our residents who feel they are being denied justice.”
National Union of Mineworkers chair Chris Skidmore said: “This government has shown total disregard for the miners at Orgreave, their families and communities who have shown remarkable fortitude for decades waiting for the truth to come out about what happened.”
Ex-miner Craig Mansell, who was arrested at the battle, said: “What happened that day represents one of the most momentous miscarriages of justice in this country’s history.”
Monday 19th June 2017
posted by Morning Star in Britain
CAMPAIGNERS staged a march and rally at the weekend demanding a public inquiry into the notorious attack by 6,000 police on striking miners at Orgreave and its subsequent cover-up.
The rally on Saturday was staged near the site of the former depot — which has since been closed and demolished — to mark the anniversary of the 1984 bloodbath in South Yorkshire.
Addressing the rally, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign chair Joe Rollin expressed hope that an inquiry into the scandal was more likely due to the recent gains of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.
“This general election shows there is significant support for a new type of politics in this country based on fairness and social justice,” she said.
“The Labour Party is committed to implementing an inquiry and has stated clearly in its manifesto its intention to hold a public inquiry into policing practices at Orgreave.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd last year promised an inquiry into Orgreave but reneged under pressure from senior Tories and the right-wing media.
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