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Posted on 28 July 2017 at 16:17 GMT

Tolpuddle march, July 2017, photo by Kevin Hayes

Tolpuddle march, July 2017, photo by Kevin Hayes   (Click to enlarge)

Large and upbeat Tolpuddle event

This is an event steeped in trade union history - back to the times when even to gather in a group to combine would result in transportation to Australia. This was the fate of the Tolpuddle Martyrs who in 1834 had the audacity to form what was in effect an 'illegal' trade union.

The bosses used their laws to sentence them to seven years of penal servitude in the colonies. The resulting mass demonstration brought them back.

This year's gathering was much bigger than forerunners, with crowds spilling into the road and car parks overflowing.

There was a different atmosphere, no doubt caused by the attendance of Jeremy Corbyn. His countenance and speech reflected how times have changed; he confidently delivered his speech, much of which was on pledges made in the Labour general election manifesto.

The march to the village was much bigger with a noticeable increase in Labour Party banners. The Socialist Party was well represented with comrades from Devon, Bristol, Southern region and beyond. Our petition on our stall was 'Smash the Pay Cap' and was readily signed. Many copies of the Socialist were bought. Our 'Support Corbyn' badges were extremely popular.

Sean Brogan, Exeter Socialist Party

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