Access the Samosa archives
Superb Gala brings HOPE for future

By Graeme Atkinson
July 19 2013





On Saturday, more than 100,000 trade unionists and people of the county’s former pit villages flocked into Durham for the 129th annual Durham Miners’ Gala.

Under cloudless skies, in brilliant sunshine and in sweltering heat, the crowds, thousands of them ex-miners, heard a strong platform of speakers including Unite leader Len McCluskey, RMT leader Bob Crow, journalist and author Owen Jones, prominent HOPE not hate supporter Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady and Ricky “Royle Family” Tomlinson of the Shrewsbury 24 after marching, banners flying and brass bands playing, in a colourful and mighty procession through the ancient city to the Racecourse for the closing political rally.

The Gala, organised by the Durham Miners’ Association, is a tremendous mass celebration of trade unionism and the working class community spirit.

HOPE not hate was proud to take part in this magnificent event which now faces a fight to raise funds and secure its future after a court decision left the DMA facing court costs of £1.4 million: the price of the its determined fight for compensation for the thousand of miners left with osteoarthritis of the knee due to their work in the mining industry.

As part of its ongoing close cooperation with the DMA – which began last year with the Spanish miners’ strike and was strengthened by our joint engagement against the appointment of self-proclaimed fascist Paolo di Canio as coach of Sunderland AFC earlier this year – HOPE not hate produced a special Durham Miners’ Gala supplement in support of the campaign to secure the Gala’s future and to back the DMA’s efforts to warn of fascist attempts to exploit the growing hardship in the county’s former mining communities. The supplement – which can be downloaded here – is being enthusiastically promoted on the DMA’s website.

Says the miners’ organisation: “As part of its ongoing cooperation with the Durham Miners’ Association, the anti-fascist organisation Hope not hate has produced an excellent full-colour 12-page supplement marking the Durham Miners’ Gala as a “Celebration of Trade Unionism and Community Spirit”. Introduced by Daily Mirror associate editor and Durham miner’s son, Kevin Maguire, with a keynote article by DMA General Secretary Dave Hopper and containing a history of past Galas well as an important article on fighting for our communities, it is a “must read” for all supporters of the Gala, the DMA and the miners’ cause here and abroad.”

The highly praised and hard-hitting article on “Communities under strain” by HNH activist Paul Meszaros has now been reproduced in the latest edition of the Durham Miner obtainable here.

At the Gala, every trade union present took copies of the supplement for distribution from their tents and stalls. Several ran out of copies and came back for more. Many hundreds of copies were distributed on the Racecourse and HNH activists were complimented on the publication by many of its recipients.

In his Gala message, printed in the official brochure, DMA General Secretary Dave Hopper put the issue squarely: “As our towns and villages face more and more deprivation, we are witnessing the rise of fascist and racist groups who feed on ignorance, fear and hatred. Although these groups are relatively small at present they must not be ignored or left unchallenged. The far-right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), with its nationalist and xenophobic culture, came second in the recent South Shields by-election and there can be no room for complacency.”

“We must never forget the lessons of the past and be ever vigilant. Our villages bear witness, with their war memorials, to the price our fathers and grandfathers paid in the fight against fascism. That is also why we were so disappointed by the choice of manager by the directors of Sunderland AFC,” he said.

The DMA has now launched a campaign to work with other involved social organisations and community groups to fight hardship in the former Durham coalfield, addressing issues of poverty, providing advice and assistance to those being hit by the government’s savage benefit cuts and opposing attempts to foment racial hatred.

HOPE not hate fully supports this DMA campaign which was successfully launched at a meeting in Murton on 2 July and which will be carried into communities across the coalfield.

HOPE not hate supporter and Mirror associate editor Kevin Maguire addresses Gala rally

HOPE not hate supporter and Mirror associate editor Kevin Maguire addresses Gala rally

Fishburn Colliery Band plays the Miners’ Hymn “Gresford”

Fishburn Colliery Band plays the Miners’ Hymn “Gresford”

Originally published by Hope not Hate 

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.