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Durham Miners' Gala saved - but no Ed this year
DURHAM Miners’ Gala has been saved for at least the next two years but Labour leader Ed Miliband will not attend this summer’s rally, organisers have said.
The long-term future of the Big Meeting, the largest trade union rally in Europe, looked in doubt before Christmas, after a failed legal case left its organisers, the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA), with a £1.4m bill.
But DMA general secretary Dave Hopper said the ensuing public appeal has produced a “very good” response, meaning the Gala will continue until 2014 at least.
Supporters were invited to become Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala and commit to making regular donations.
Mr Hopper said: “We’ve had a lot of people signing up. We’re really pleased with the way it’s going. We’re OK for this year and next year.”
The Gala dates back nearly 130 years. Each year, tens of thousands of people flock to Durham to see dozens of brass bands march colliery banners through the city to the Racecourse, where the political speeches are delivered.
Mr Hopper said this year’s line-up would include union leaders Bob Crow of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Len McCluskey from Unite and Frances O’Grady of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), along with left-wing journalists Owen Jones and Kevin Maguire.
But Mr Miliband, who became the first Labour leader to address the Gala in 23 years last summer, has another engagement, Mr Hopper said.
He informed the DMA of this some time ago but has pledged to return in 2014, he added.
Mr Miliband pulled out of the 2011 Gala after refusing to share the platform with Mr Crow.
This year’s Gala, which will be held on Saturday, July 13, will be the first since the death of DMA president David Guy, who lost his battle with cancer last summer, aged 66.
The DMA launched its Gala cash appeal after losing a fight to win payouts for former miners suffering from the debilitating osteoarthritis of the knee because of their work in the industry.
To support the appeal, visit durhamminers.org or write to: Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala, PO Box 6, The Miners’ Hall, Durham, DH1 4BB.
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