Kettling. A modern representation of Enclosure; a combination of innovation and tradition which has become a defining experience of social control in the 21st century. My first experience of kettling was in October 1992. A newly-elected Conservative government had announced a series of pit closures in preparation for the privatization of whatever scraps remained of King Coal. Communities already buckled by the weight of Thatcher’s war against her ‘enemies within’ faced yet more punishment. The demonstrations called by the National Union of Mineworkers in October were packed with hundreds of thousands of angry people, outraged at both the treatment of the miners and the Conservative Party’s substantial, foul-tasting victory at the May election. On the day, the police were mindful of the many strike veterans being bussed into London (perhaps also vaguely recalling the recent fate of the regime in Bucharest at the hands of miners) as well as the unleashed fury of the poll tax demonstrations, which had resulted in chaos in Central London only a couple of years previously. The authorities’ strategy at the conclusion of the rally was to pile up row upon row of riot policemen, combined with cordons, to prevent people leaving Hyde Park and heading towards Westminster. Surges from the back of the crowd squashed demonstrators in the middle and the front—thereby placing the onus upon the demonstrators to be the first to lash out. Whilst people were penned-in on three sides, the police launched a couple of cavalry charges. The aim, to large extent successful, was to isolate those willing to take on the police, from those who would be relieved to escape. The police figured that only a fraction would choose to remain in a restricted space for an unknown period, in the proximity of the police horses and their baton-wielding riders.

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