Orgreave Truth ‘A Personal Priority’

Burnham pledges to expose police abuses

This article by Conrad Landin originally appeared in the Morning Star

 

ANDY BURNHAM will make it his “personal priority” to expose abuses of police powers, including over the Shrewsbury pickets and the Battle of Orgreave.

Addressing Labour conference yesterday, the shadow home secretary pledged to fight for the future of police forces with the same vigour he has deployed in battling for the NHS.

He also said European free movement had benefited “private companies more than people and communities,” echoing concerns over the common market raised in a GMB union resolution passed on Monday.

Mr Burnham warned: “The truth is this — free movement, as it currently works, is widening inequality.

“Yes, it has built the economic power of the big cities.

“But it has also made life harder in our poorest communities, where the rules have been exploited to undercut people’s wages, undermine their job security and create a race to the bottom.”

He said the police had questions to answer over its “collusion” with the press, and its use of stop-and-search powers on young black people.

And he said historic abuses must also be put under the spotlight — picking out the brutal attacks on striking miners at Orgreave in 1984, the Hillsborough disaster and the arrest of 24 pickets at Shrewsbury after the national construction strike in 1972.

“We won’t know the full story of Hillsborough until we know what the same police force did to the miners in the aftermath of Orgreave,” he said.

“And to understand how an anti-trade union culture developed in parts of the police, we need the full story about the false convictions and imprisonment of building workers in Shrewsbury.”

Construction union Ucatt, which has long campaigned for full disclosure over Shrewsbury, welcomed Mr Burnham’s commitment to take up the fight.

The union’s acting general secretary Brian Rye said the move would “help ensure that a 40-plus year fight for justice” could be concluded.

“This demonstrates how Labour is reconnecting with workers and is prepared to take on the Establishment to win justice,” he added.

Labour promised to release files on the Shrewsbury cases into the public domain during this year’s election campaign.