It’s more than 30 years since the strike at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire was carried out by more than 6,000 police officers. On June 18, 1984, 123 people were injured when Margaret Thatcher’s mobilization of state repression reached its peak, choreographed specifically to smash the miners’ strike at one of its most important points. On Monday the U.K.’s Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced that there would be no inquiry into events at the plant and the subsequent police cover up.
The riot at Orgreave occurred at a point when, behind closed doors, the U.K. Government was having to confront the prospect that the miners’ strike would cause existential damage to the country’s capitalism. It was a premeditated assault, led by the South Yorkshire Constabulary with support from officers bussed in from other forces. The more than five thousand miners they attacked were also bussed in, from mining communities across the U.K., with the intention of shutting down a center of the U.K.’s coal production.
It is widely accepted that the conduct of the police at the event had nothing to do with policing. The intention was to use manpower to brutalize an opposition, “the enemy within” as Thatcher herself called the miners. The government wanted, unambiguously, to demonstrate the futility of protest to communities across the country and the personal costs of insolence to those on the picket lines.