The ties that bind us – A story of solidarity and friendship
Political campaigning is multifaceted. While many campaigns can appear to be organising around a single issue, the value and benefits of uniting with other organisations is immeasurable and will build support and understanding amongst us all, inspiring us to concentrate on what unites us rather than what divides us. Below is a brief history of a heartwarming relationship between three groups.
Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) was formed in July 1984, during the year-long miners’ strike of 1984/5, to raise awareness of the miners’ cause in the London LGBT+ community and to support the miners and the National Union of Mineworkers. The LGSM story is told in the 2014 film Pride, and the group reformed in 2014 to respond to the new wave of interest in their story.
The Friends of Edward Carpenter (FOEC) is a social and political project set up in 2011 dedicated to establishing a permanent memorial to the campaigner for socialism and sexual emancipation, Edward Carpenter, in Sheffield City Centre, recognising his historical and social importance and unique association with the city. The group organises many cultural and political awareness raising events.
Set up in 2012 after the outcome of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) was established to campaign for a Public Inquiry into the police riot and police violence at the Orgreave coking plant on 18th June 1984 during the Miners’ strike when 95 miners were arrested and subsequently acquitted after their cases collapsed due to insufficient evidence. The court proceedings revealed that it was not the guilt of the miners but the deficiencies of the police operations when police also appeared to lie in court and behave with impunity.
To celebrate LGBT+ History Month in 2015 the FOEC presented a programme of events at the Sheffield Millennium Gallery entitled ‘LGBT Voice and Influence’. The events included insightful and inspirational talks, a series of short ‘coming out’ films, music from Grace Petrie and the Woodhouse Prize brass band, a presentation about Edward Carpenter and a free screening of the film ‘Pride’. An on stage discussion took place after the Pride film with LGSM and OTJC. It was a fantastic weekend attended and supported by many people and became the beginning of a wonderful journey of comradeship, solidarity and friendship between the three organisations.
Miners went out on strike in 1984 to fight for their jobs and the future of their communities and the coal industry in Britain. They were brutalised by a militarised police force and vilified and lied about by a media who were being politically directed by the Thatcher led Tory Government.
In the last six years the OTJC have had our request for a public inquiry into police brutality rejected by three successive Tory Home Secretaries. The Tory Government even rejected a request from the Bishop of Sheffield to set up an Orgreave Independent Panel to establish the facts about what happened at Orgreave during the strike against pit closures.
Since 2012 our campaign for truth and justice has gathered momentum throughout the Trade Union and Labour movement in Britain and Ireland and throughout the world, gathering support in countries such as France, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. We have a commitment in the Labour manifesto for a public inquiry and the support of many councils, trade unions, political and social justice groups and community organisations. Our campaigning events and activities have captured the imaginations of many and we have also had the privilege of being invited to speak and take part in many events organised by others.
Throughout all this campaigning the OTJC have consistently and unreservedly been supported by our comrades in LGSM and FOEC. We have marched and paraded together, ran stalls, spoke at meetings and film screenings together, written articles and done interviews together, and socialised and laughed and cried together. Ours is a true relationship of friendship, solidarity and hope and long may it continue.
For more information please look at our web pages: