Miners’ strike remembered at emotional With Banners Held High festival

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Hundreds of people gathered for a festival to mark 30 years since miners returned to work after a year-long strike.

Wakefield’s Unity Hall was packed on Saturday for With Banners Held High, a day of events to remember the epic miners’ strike of 1984-5.

Music, drama and poetry was staged at the venue, compered by writer and broadcaster Ian Clayton.

A series of debates was held on the strike, how it was reported in the media and the involvement of the security services in the Thatcher government’s attempts to defeat the miners.

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner gave an emotional speech, cheered on by hundreds of people who gave a standing ovation in the venue’s main hall.

The Bolsover MP told the audience that cabinet papers released last year proved Mrs Thatcher was planning to close 75 pits when the government had claimed the number was nearer 20.

He said: “Now we know she was lying, and every member of her government was lying for 12 months.”

Exhibitions of iconic images of the strike were held. They included pictures by photographers including Martin Jenkinson, the official Yorkshire NUM photographer during the dispute, and John Harris.

National Union of Mineworkers banners were hung in the hall during the day-long event, which was followed by a fundraising gig by punk band New Model Army.

With Banners Held High was organised by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, which is calling for an inquiry into the policing of the strike.

An Orgreave Truth and Justice CD was also launched, featuring songs by Matt Abbott, Billy Bragg and Paul Heaton.