The Plastic Hippo

November 1, 2016

Joint enterprise

Image via Press Association

Image via Press Association

Some rather momentous things went on in 1984 and, unless he was exerting influence from beyond the grave, none of the drama had anything to do with George Orwell or his vision of a dystopian future.

In 1984, Apple launched the Mackintosh personal computer and researchers in the United States announced the discovery of the AIDS virus. The Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games, Bruce Springsteen released Born in the USA and Ronald Reagan was re-elected as President of the United States. Liechtenstein granted women the right to vote and the Provisional IRA attempted to murder Prime Minister Thatcher and the rest of the cabinet in the Brighton bombing. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards and a month later, an explosion at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal initially killed more than 8,000 with the death toll reaching 23,000 and still rising. British Telecom was privatised and crack cocaine first appeared on the streets of Los Angeles.

We said hello to footballers Carlos Tevez and Fernando Torres; singers Katie Melua and Avril Lavigne. We also welcomed Mark Zuckerberg, Prince Harry, Kim Jong-Un, Cirque du Soliel, GCSEs, Burkina Faso, space shuttles Challenger and Discovery and for the first time on television, Thomas the Tank Engine.

We waved goodbye to the pound note, O Levels and CSEs and Brunei as a dependency of the United Kingdom. We said a fond farewell to Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye and Count Basie and also Tommy Cooper, Eric Morecambe and John Betjeman. Arthur “Bomber” Harris and George Gallup shook off this mortal coil and, in a bad year for drama, Flora Robson, James Mason, JB Priestley, Truman Capote and Richard Burton popped their clogs. Ironically, Burton`s final film role was as O`Brien in a bleak adaptation of Orwell`s 1984.

If, for the sake of diplomatic expediency as advocated by a certain Tony Blair, we ignore the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher gunned down when protecting the Libyan embassy in London, not much else happened in 1984. Oh…apart from the introduction of the legal doctrine of Joint Criminal Enterprise and the Miner`s Strike Part Two.

Joint Criminal Enterprise, also known as Common Purpose or Guilt by Association means that anyone involved in committing an offence that results in wounding or murder is guilty of that offence even if that individual did not strike the blow causing injury or death or was even present at the time of the offence. It seems that the law introduced in 1984 to ensure the prosecution of violent gang members by using the technical term “parasitic accessorial liability” has been widely misinterpreted by the judicial system. Goodness me…there`s a surprise. Worry not, the 13 test cases brought against Guilt by Association have failed and the criminals with common purpose are still safely detained at Her Majesty`s pleasure.

So for 32 years the law was wrong but after 32 years the law is correct after all. By strange coincidence, on the day when the law once again proves itself to be an ass, a person going by the name of Amber Rudd stands up in the House of Commons to announce that there will be no independent inquiry into the deployment of the constabulary as a political militia against groups of United Kingdom citizens. Who the bloody hell, you might well ask, is Amber Rudd?

Well daddy was a stockbroker and Amber is an alumnus of Cheltenham Ladies College. In 1984, when horses were charging at Orgreave, the 11-year-old Amber graduated to the rough and tumble of Queen`s College public school for girls in London`s run-down Harley Street. Later, she read history at Edinburgh and after working for JP Morgan became, somewhat, ironically, the director of a zinc mine in Peru. After that business failed, she turned an honest coin at a couple of hedge funds and acted as the “aristocracy co-ordinator” wrangling film extras in Four Weddings and a Funeral. She then resorted to the more secure career for serial failures as a Conservative MP. Now divorced, Amber once had the taste to marry AA Gill. Need we say more in terms of rational judgement?

After the former Home Secretary and now current Prime Minister promised an inquiry into the events at Orgreave, Ms Rudd now claims that no such undertaking was ever given. She said, in the House of Commons no less, that there is not a “sufficient basis…to instigate either a statutory inquiry or an independent review”. She went on to say that “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.”

A call for a public inquiry is usually triggered by a nebulous, unquantifiable notion of “public concern.” The Scarman inquiry into serious public disorder in Toxteth, Brixton, Handsworth and elsewhere and later concluded that poor people don`t like politicians and for some strange, unfathomable reason, ethnic minorities distrusted the police or was that possibly the other way round. The Leveson inquiry into UK media concluded that politicians and their media masters don`t like poor people or ethnic minorities so everything is absolutely fine. The CSA inquiry is being deliberately sabotaged because politicians, media barons and wealthy, powerful child molesters refuse to accept that the rich and powerful child molesters could even be remotely guilty. The Hillsborough inquiry took decades to be firstly established and then reach a conclusion. There have been no prosecutions.

So according to Amber Rudd, death and wrongful conviction are the only triggers for a judicial inquiry. She said that there is no link between the actions of South Yorkshire Police at Orgreave and at Hillsborough five years later and in any case, policing has moved on since the dark days of 1984. She claims that “very significant changes” mean that an inquiry will not provide any lessons in terms of future law enforcement and claims that the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners will ensure that the police will never again be used as a political mob. Sadly, Dr Alan Billings, the current Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire responded off the script:
“I said when I was elected I fully supported the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign in their fight for a proper enquiry into the events at Orgreave. The former miners and their families deserve to know the truth about what happened that day. I am therefore shocked and dismayed by this decision. The government have marched the Campaign for Truth and Justice to the top of the hill only to march them down again. I am not convinced by the reasons given for refusing an investigation.”

There is clear evidence from the Independent Police Complaints Commission that perjury, perverting the course of justice and an orchestrated falsification of police statements took place after the so-called Battle of Orgreave. Instead of bringing the “usual” charges of disorderly conduct against the striking miners, the then Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, under orders from above, brought charges of unlawful assembly and riot. The 95 cases did not come to court for a year and over the course of 48 days, each case collapsed, hence Amber Rudd`s triumphant proclamation that there were no convictions. In the mother of all parliaments, Amber Rudd accused Andy Burnham of “politicising” the utterly disgraceful affront to justice when a previous government used to police to not only break a strike but to also break the skulls of its citizens demonstrating to keep their jobs.

Cabinet papers released in 2014 under the 30 years rule show a government riddled with paranoia, irrationality and a profound hatred of the working class. Prime Minister Thatcher was dictating the number of ships importing coal, the tonnage required and the number of trucks needed to transport coal to power stations on a daily basis. John Redwood talked of revolutionary elements in the pay of the Soviet Union attempting to bring down the government and Home Secretary Leon Brittan was ordering phone taps and surveillance on anyone north of Watford. Nah…that`s not actually true but the behaviour of former Home Secretary Leon Brittan is probably worth a number of public investigations along with the former Prime Minister who lost the Miners Strike Part One.

There is evidence that suggests that the tactics of South Yorkshire Police was a planned and criminal mass assault against striking miners of the NUM with the police acting as agents of the Conservative government. Any reference to Orgreave battle has been carefully removed from disclosed cabinet papers but documents show that Mrs Thatcher and Leon Brittan approved extra funding for dogs, horses and riot equipment and mobilised police forces from across the country to confront the striking miners at Orgreave.

Thatcher, Brittan and Sir Ian MacGregor who destroyed British Leyland, British Steel and the National Coal Board are all now dead along with British industry. So, perhaps Amber Rudd is correct in thinking that raking over “ancient history” and having to suffer a nearly dead Norman Tebbit being given airtime on the national broadcaster is punishment enough. Little wonder that this current government has no stomach for impertinent investigation of previous governments as this might just result in future scrutiny of their own misdeeds. Amber Rudd and Theresa May might need to consider the law of Joint Enterprise and Guilt by Association especially when reviewing the actions of the Department of Work and Pensions.

Some rather momentous things went on in 2016 and, unless she was exerting influence from beyond the grave, most of the drama had everything to do with Margaret Thatcher and her vision of a dystopian future.


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