Burnham to press on Orgreave

ANDY Burnham hopes winning his bid to become Labour leader could help secure an inquiry into events in Yorkshire during the 1980s miners strike.
Andy BurnhamAndy Burnham
Andy Burnham

The Shadow Health Secretary was a key figure in securing a fresh inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster and sees parallels with what has become known as the ‘battle of Orgreave’in 1984 .

Mr Burnham pressed the Prime Minister earlier this year for a Hillsborough-style inquiry into the 1984 clash between striking miners and police and its aftermath.

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He said: “This is an untold scandal that needs to come to light. I personally don’t think the full story of Hillsborough will ever be told until the full story of Orgreave is told.

“Some of the tactics that were used by South Yorkshire Police in the aftermath of Orgreave, I think were replicated in the aftermath of Hillsborough and I think understanding that is part of understanding the story of Hillsborough.”

Mr Burnham continued: “This is conjecture, but informed conjecture. I think coming out of the miners’ strike South Yorkshire Police were given political cover - let me put it that way - and then were able to use tactics at that time which they then felt emboldened to use again after Hillsborough.

“I think that is the truth of it but we need to have that confirmed. I would want to say to the Orgreave truth and justice campaign that they would have my full support as leader of the Labour Party and I hope that might enable them to make progress in this anniversary year.”

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Mr Burnham was speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of campaigning visits to Yorkshire this week as he tries to position himself as the candidate best-placed to stop left-winger Jeremy Corbyn winning a surprise victory.

While Mr Corbyn has a significant lead in polls of Labour supporters there are doubts over whether he can reach the 50 per cent winning post when members’ first preferences are counted.

Mr Burnham and Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper are competing to secure the second preference votes that could be crucial for victory.

The Shadow Health Secretary said: “I can still win. I am confident that I can. I believe I am the only person who can beat Jeremy Corbyn.

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“I think any candidate will struggle to win on the first round. It will be transfers, I think, that influence the final result whoever wins I would say.

“The great worry is that Labour starts fighting itself coming out of this if there is a feeling one side of the party has won over the other.

“My argument is if we go back to Labour in the 1980s - talking about Orgreave - we know what happened in that era. Labour was fighting itself and we left the way clear for Maggie to bulldoze her way through communities in Yorkshire.”

Mr Burnham, whose campaign is being masterminded by Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, will be in Pudsey today, one of the string of marginal constituencies in West Yorkshire Labour targeted but largely failed to win at the General Election in May.

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He said Labour had lost its connection with many voters and was seen by some as a “London-centric party”.

“We’ve lost voters in all directions. This is my mission, I want to win back those people, I want to give them a Labour Party they can believe in and vote for again.”

The result of the Labour leadership election will be announced on September 12.