Orgreave inquiry ruling is a chance for Labour to rally itself

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Photo: Photofusion/Rex

You would be forgiven these days for turning on the news, hearing “Today the Labour Party has said…”, and proceeding to spit out your morning coffee in surprise the Labour Party do, in fact, continue to exist.

Labour have fallen away from the media limelight in recent weeks. The last thing they were there for was receiving the highest recorded fine from the Electoral Commission for undeclared expenses in last year’s General Election.

Although we can snort with disgust at the “Ed Stone” costing over £7000, Labour supporters could rejoice at having come first in something in a time of such melancholy about the party’s future.

However, one could say Amber Rudd has handed the party an olive branch, in the form of an announcement today.

Rudd announced the government would not be following any further inquiry into the “Battle of Orgreave” – horse charges and several brutal clashes between thousands of police and striking miners in 1984 across the country.

Rudd said there was “not a sufficient basis” for further inquiry, and added: “I know that this decision will come as a significant disappointment to the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and its supporters, and I have set out in a letter to them today the detailed reasons for my decision, which include the following points.

“Despite the forceful accounts and arguments provided by the campaigners and former miners who were present that day, about the effect that these events have had on them, ultimately there were no deaths or wrongful convictions.”

The footage is online for all to see; despite there being no deaths (as if death was a prerequisite for inquiry) many were injured on both sides, with police bearing the brunt of smoke bombs and stones, and miners forced back by riot shields and truncheons.

Not to mention horses.

Labour has come out strongly against the announcement by Amber Rudd, and rightfully so.

For too long the Labour Party has become a watered-down opposition, with its leader unable to pounce readily on the Prime Minister at the dispatch box, and a battle within the party that should be reserved for beating the Conservatives at election time.

This is Labour’s chance to stand with those voters who have stuck with it through the decades: The working class, semi-skilled and unskilled workers, manual labourers, low-income families and those needing assistance in the welfare system.

Those voters key to Labour, and whose communities Labour made a difference to.

In an ideal world, Jeremy Corbyn sounds like the man to do that job – he has those interests at heart.

Now, though, it isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn, it is about the party. The party has to stand beside the families of those affected by the Orgreave Battle and the many more conflicts that occurred on that day.

However, I should say there is no use in pretending the miners are completely innocent. Indeed, it was ruled illegal in September 1984 as no ballot had been held on the action.

An inquiry is needed for the members of the police injured on that day too, and to decide whether what they did was truly lawful, and put to bed a feud that has lasted decades.

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“It is worth ascending unexiting heights if for nothing else than to see the big ones from nearer their own level.” - Nan Shepherd

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