Durham Miners’ Gala will be a ‘turning point’ for Labour party

A scene from a previous Big Meeting in Durham.
A scene from a previous Big Meeting in Durham.
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Tomorrow’s Durham Miners’ Gala will signal a new chapter in the Labour party’s history with its organisers expecting the crowd to give Jeremy Corbyn a “hero’s reception.”

Mr Corbyn will be one of the speakers and his attendance comes in the wake of a vote of no confidence in him by Labour MPs, fuelling speculation of a potential leadership challenge.

Dave Hopper, general secretary of Durham Miners' Association.

Dave Hopper, general secretary of Durham Miners' Association.

Mr Corbyn, who will attend the Big Meeting for the third time, will be joined on the main platform by Dennis Skinner MP, a long time supporter of the event, who will take up a place left after the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson said he could not attend due to his father’s illness.

They will be joined by Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB, and Mick Wheelan, who holds the post with ASLEF.

Dave Hopper, secretary of Durham Miners’ Association, said: “I think this Gala absolutely is a turning point in the Labour party as we know and understand it because we have seen MPs trying to usurp their lead member and they were not able to do that and I understand a lot of them went back to their constituencies after the fiasco and were met by the membership, who were some very disproving people.

“If they wanted to challenge him, they would have an opportunity in October at the party’s conference.

I would like to think we can move on from this episode and unite, because if we don’t, then we don’t have any chance.

Dave Hopper

“I would like to think we can move on from this episode and unite, because if we don’t, then we don’t have any chance.

“He will get a hero’s reception, there’s no doubt about that.”

The banners will be marched by the County Hotel in Old Elvet throughout the morning and speeches on the Racecourse Field are expected to start at around 12.45pm.

The displays will head up to Durham Cathedral at around 2.40pm and the annual miners service will be held at 3pm.

The People’s Bookshop, which is based in Saddlers Yard, has teamed up with Jam Jah to put on performances by bands in support of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

Admission is £5 at Alington House in North Bailey and the line up of bands including The Kets, Jordan Kirkup and This Little Bird.

More details are available through the Club Resistance at the People’s Bookshop page on Facebook.

A series of road closures will be in place throughout the city centre from 6.30am to 8pm.