Here are two more snippets by Solomon Hughes from the Morning Star. Tiny pieces of info in the great scheme of the strike but interesting as ever the little adjustments that were made by the state to the focus on defeating the strike.
THERE are two more interesting historical notes of interest from the formerly secret Home Office file on the miner’s strike which I reported on in these pages (M Star September 25).
Sergeants’ exam: The files contain one previously unreported example of how intense the policing of the Miner’s strike was. An October 1984 note says a Sergeant’s Exam had to be postponed. This was because the combination of the strike, the state opening of Parliament and constables sitting the exam was more than the system of sharing police throughout Britain during the strike could bear.
The note says there had to be “an emergency meeting of the Police Promotions Examinations Board” which was “arranged at 24 hours’ notice following strong representation from the President of ACPO.”
Chief constable of Humberside David Hall was the president of ACPO (The Association of Chief Police Officers). He was responsible for the National Reporting Centre which co-ordinated national policing of the strike.
The emergency meeting agreed to postpone that year’s Sergeant’s Exam, because “the problem is that this examination would normally take out something approaching 10,000 constables from provincial forces for a day out of a total pool of constable manpower of about 60,000. In view of the state opening [of Parliament] the Metropolitan Police will not be able to make available that day their normal contingent for policing the miner’s dispute.”
Initially the Police Federation was “strongly opposed” to delaying the exam, but was “persuaded” of the need. The exam was postponed for three weeks.
French convoy: There are also a flurry of documents from October 1984 relating to “a plan by the French Communist Trade Union, the CGT, to bring some 35 lorries of food and other goods to this country for distribution to striking miners.”
The convoy, which arrived via Dover, obviously greatly concerned ministers. Reports on the convoy were sent to Number 10 by the Home Office and “the security service” was consulted on the events. The government was very worried about the politically inspired international solidarity, because it was trying to wear down and isolate the miners.
Miners’ supporters said the government wanted to “starve them back to work.”
However the government decided not to try and use immigration law to prevent the convoy entering Britain because “the police are strongly of the view that attempts to prevent the supporters entering are more likely to precipitate than avert public order problems.”