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From: The Socialist issue 678, 6 July 2011: Our fightback can win!

Search site for keywords: Durham - Miners - Union - Labour - Ed Miliband

Durham Miners' Gala: Miliband pulls out

Elaine Brunskill

Ed Miliband has come under fire for pulling out of speaking at the Durham Miners' Gala. In a cowardly retreat it became clear he did not want to share the stage with Bob Crow, the militant leader of the RMT transport union. Seemingly the Durham leadership of the National Union of Miners (NUM) was asked by New Labour's apparatchiks if Bob could be 'uninvited'.

Initially, when Miliband had pledged to speak at the Durham Miners' 'Big Meeting', it was hailed as evidence of Miliband's determination to rebuild links with Labour's traditional working class supporters. However, Miliband's haughty indifference for workers has been further highlighted by his message to unions to call off the 30 June public sector strike.

At a local UCU pre-strike rally Kevin McHugh, national executive member of the PCS civil service union, derided Miliband for pulling out of the Gala. Members of the UCU lecturers' union are also unhappy about Miliband's attack on their strike action. This led to local Labour MPs, Ian Mearns and Dave Anderson, trying to distance themselves from their own national leadership.

This year's Durham Miners' Gala comes at a time when there is desperate need for a strong workers' party to lead the attack against this rotten Con-Dem government. According to the Financial Times (FT) the north-east is "the English region most vulnerable to cuts in public sector jobs and spending".

The Con-Dem government are spinning the yarn that the private sector will take up the slack of public sector job losses.

However, the FT report goes on to say that the region's private sector will also be badly hit. Research indicates that an estimated 30,000 public sector job losses in the north-east will trigger the loss of a further 20,000 private sector jobs.

We are already seeing workers' lives in the private sector being turned upside down as they are thrown into unemployment. In Birtley 126 workers, almost two fifths of the workforce, have been 'shafted' by AEI Cables. The company entered a Company Voluntary Arrangement, which has left the sacked workers with no redundancy payments.

As the sustained attack on both public and private sector workers heats up an increasing number of workers are looking for an alternative.

At this year's Durham Miners' Gala, alongside listening to the brass bands, and participating in the carnival atmosphere of the event, tens of thousands will also come to hear Bob Crow putting forward a fighting alternative to this rotten government's austerity programme.

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