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The Battle of Orgreave: police partout, justice nulle part

Download Battle of Orgreave

Stop Press: please see an update in the footnote*

An e-mail with word of a new song
arrived today from Ed Pickford, an outstanding North-eastern writer (Pound A Week Rise, One Miner’s Life, Ah Cud Hew and the especially powerful Farewell Johnny Miner are merely examples of his early work).

Ed has weighed in on The Battle of Orgreave and the Government's shameful decision to rule out any sort of inquiry into the events of June 18 in the year, aptly, 1984, when police fought miners during the pit strike during a mass picket in South Yorkshire.

The Pitman Poets perform Ed's classic Farewell Johnny Miner

Although I was not present, I accept that bad behaviour occurred on both sides. I was witness to ugly scenes elsewhere during the dispute. But the footage from Orgeave clearly shows police brutally laying into pickets, often without trace of provocation, and it is common ground that vindictive prosecutions were dropped because police evidence was deemed beyond belief.

A Labour MP Tristram Hunt, now shadow secretary of state for education, has called the battle "almost medieval in its choreography... at various stages a siege, a battle, a chase, a rout and, finally, a brutal example of legalised state violence".

When I watch the scenes again, and reflect on the deeply unimpressive home secretary Amber Rudd's apparent about-turn on the issue of an inquiry, my mind is taken to a common cry I have heard at French demonstrations: Police partout, Justice nulle part (police everywhere, justice nowhere).

Despite advancing years, Ed has lost none of his instincts for decency and the rights of working people. The world is a better place for that.

This is his song and you can hear him perform it by clicking on the MP3 link at the top of this post:


Battle of Orgreave

{w&m Ed Pickford}

Battle of Orgreave {w&m Ed Pickford}

Horses charge across the screen

Not since Peterloo is seen Such a fight and flight obscene As on the fields of Orgreave

Truncheons curving in the air Unarmed victims running there

Justice gazes in despair
At scenes on fields of Orgreave

We don’t see the unseen hand That conducts this brutal band Dishing out a lesson planned Upon the fields of Orgreave

June of 1984
Superstate that Orwell saw Tyranny of martial law
Runs red on fields of Orgreave

1812 the soundtrack played
To this modern light brigade
Now they hope the shame will fade Displayed on fields of Orgreave

Orgreave is a can of worms
Deep inside the real truth squirms Outside cold injustice burns About the fields of Orgreave

Yes it’s true that no one died
Yes it’s true policemen lied Failed to jail all those they tried Snatched from fields at Orgreave

Justice is an uphill fight Mighty might avoids the light It prefers the cloak of night To dawn on fields of Orgreave

War will live upon the screen Memories they can’t wash clean Truth & justice we will glean From the fields of Orgreave

Now there are no horses hooves But persistence often proves Strength of will a mountain moves So says the fields of Orgreave

And the new fight has begun............




* UPDATE: Ed sent the song to the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign in case it could make use of it. He suggests a female singer, I agree and would recommend Janet Russell. Here is the response from Barbara Jackson, the campaign's secretary.

'Dear Ed

... very impressive. I was very moved by the poem and then even more so your voice singing in such a thoughtful way, saying it all so simply.

I will get it on our social media and also forward it to the guy who deals with the music side of things on the campaign. I want us to explore if we could have the song playing when people log onto our social media ... I am also forwarding your email along with all the emails of support to the Home Office and Amber Rudd as they need to also know the strength of feeling.'


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