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From: The Socialist issue 1050, 17 July 2019: Stop Boris - general election now

Search site for keywords: Durham - Unions - Miners - Socialist - Labour - Socialist Party - Newcastle - Orgreave - Jeremy Corbyn - Len McCluskey - Fighting Fund

Durham Miners' Gala: Strength and history of unions on show

Part of the crowd listening to speeches at the Durham Miners' Gala, 13.7.19, photo by Paul Mattsson

Part of the crowd listening to speeches at the Durham Miners' Gala, 13.7.19, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Emma Dawson, Newcastle Socialist Party

An estimated 200,000 people attended the 135th Durham Miners' Gala on 13 July, one of Europe's biggest celebrations of trade unionism and the labour movement.

Dozens of bands and banners flooded the streets, with the first marching band starting just after 8.30am. The procession continued well into the afternoon as it made its way towards the racecourse.

Speakers included Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey and Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn's speech focused on the effects of austerity and the failures of the current Tory government, as well as his commitment to an inquiry into Orgreave (see the Socialist, issue 1048) on day one of a Labour government. He also touched on support for the nationalisation of rail, mail and water services, which was well received.

Numerous stalls lined the racecourse including those from major trade unions, as well as from a variety of groups including Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

The Socialist Party stall offered a variety of political literature which proved popular with people. Socialist Party members were armed with petitions and newspapers, with around 200 copies of the Socialist being sold and 100 raised for the fighting fund.

Although I had been aware of the gala for a long time, the 2019 gala was in fact my first. The scale and sheer size of the event is hard to appreciate until you are among the crowds. It's a testament to the strength and history of the trade union and labour movement and its future. The stalls provided a good opportunity to stock up on books and badges and meet people behind various campaigns.

Despite the occasional heavy rain, it was a really good day and one which will leave many, including myself, looking forward to next year's gala.

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