Jeremy Corbyn to be first Labour leader to attend Durham Miners' Gala for four years

Jeremy Corbyn will be the first Labour leader to attend the Durham Miners' Gala for four years.
Jeremy CorbynJeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

Ed Miliband only addressed the huge trade union event, known locally as The Big Meeting, once as leader in 2012, while his predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown never made it.

Mr Corbyn attended last year before he was elected leader, and “went down very well”, Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) secretary Dave Hopper said.

“We are delighted that he is coming,” he said.

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“Tom Watson the deputy is attending, which is fairly unique.

“We are looking forward to a tremendous day.

“He won by a landslide, and despite the efforts of the media to annul him, he is still carrying on.

“Last year the police estimated there were 150,000 people there. That’s some crowd, especially when you think there’s no pits left.”

The traditional event sees colliery bands from around the country march through the city, parade past Labour Party and union dignitaries on the balcony of the County Hotel, then gather on the racecourse for speeches.

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Large numbers of families turn out to enjoy the spectacle, which includes a huge funfair.

Mr Hopper said Mr Corbyn was “probably the first socialist since Keir Hardie” to lead the party.

“He has filled a lot of people with confidence and he got a tremendous mandate from people in the party,” he said.

The DMA secretary was scathing about the Labour leaders who did not come.

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“Blair was a disgrace, he only lived five miles away from the meeting and he never attended once,” he said.

But the Iraq war meant the Miners’ Association was glad he did not come, Mr Hopper said.

“Brown was a walking disaster,” he added.

“That fella couldn’t get anything right.

“If you asked him heads or tails, the coin would have come down on its side.”

The event this year takes place on Saturday July 9.