‘Time to pass Orgreave fight to next generation’

Craig Oldham who is an Orgreave campaigner with his dad Mick in the NUM headquarters in Barnsley'Picture Dean Atkins

Craig Oldham who is an Orgreave campaigner with his dad Mick in the NUM headquarters in Barnsley'Picture Dean Atkins

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Campaigners fighting for justice over the infamous ‘Battle of Orgreave’ are pushing for the next generation to take up the cause.

Clashes between picketing miners and police at the Orgreave Coking Plant in June 1984 led to 95 people being arrested against a backdrop of the nationwide miners’ strike.

Barbara Jackson, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

Barbara Jackson, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

When the cases came to court, all were abandoned due to unreliable evidence and later South Yorkshire Police paid out £425,000 in out-of-court settlements to 39 pickets.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign was left disappointed earlier this year when the Independent Police Complaints Commission decided it would not investigate potential police misconduct.

But after meetings with Home Secretary Theresa May, the campaign has been given fresh hope – and organisers are hoping they can turn to the next generation of campaigners to keep the fight alive.

Craig Oldham, aged 30, from Barnsley, is one of the campaigners. His father Mick was a picketing miner at the battle on June 18, 1984.

NOSTNW  THE Battle of Orgreave where Margret Thathcher finally achieved her dream of beating the miners.

NOSTNW THE Battle of Orgreave where Margret Thathcher finally achieved her dream of beating the miners.

He said: “It’s quite emotional to be involved, knowing that my dad was at Orgeave 31 years ago as a young man, fighting for his job against a pretty oppressive force.

“It stirs up all kinds of emotions. Some are quite poignant, some are quite raw.

“Mick said that everything was very calm and amicable that day, until the push came. He said that’s when it all turned nasty.

“I think it’s massively important that the next generation carries on the fight.

“It’s about working class people fighting for their livelihoods, fighting against an oppressive force.

“These values still matter today and that’s why the cause is so universally understood.

“There’s a universal truth that needs to be found. Justice needs to be done for these people and we will carry on the fight.”

Craig said he was ‘overwhelmingly angry’ when he heard the IPCC decision – but that it has only made his will to fight stronger.

“From a personal point of view the overwhelming feeling was anger, in terms of how it was portrayed that it might not matter any more because it’s been 31 years.

“But I think it matters to everyone. Whether you were involved in the dispute or came after, those issues matter.”

Campaign secretary Barbara Jackson said: “It’s amazing we can get this support 31 years later and people still care enough to fight.

“One of the most important things is continuing the fight in the next generation.

“I am really keen for young people to come forward and feel this campaign can be their campaign, their history, their memory and it can be their future as well.

“We believe in what we do and the fight for truth and justice will never stop.

“I was really pleased with the IPCC’s written report – it offers the campaign lots of ways forward.

“Several times it says in the report about a full public enquiry. We can build on that. It’s given us a new breath of life. It’s motivated us, it’s energised us.

“The decision caused massive ripples in the media and massive energy has gone into Parliament and I’m sure it’s energised some people who might not have turned up to our rallies.

“I think unexpectedly the IPCC has energised us all.

“I feel more strongly now that a full public enquiry might be a reality.

“However, I’m under no illusions that these things are easy to talk about but they are harder to deliver on.

“That is the job the campaign has to do – to keep that pressure on.”

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