MINERS’ leader Alan Mardghum has called on working class communities to unite against “the far right agenda”.

Mr Mardghum has been involved in the gala for more than 40 years but will be presiding over the event for the first time since becoming secretary and president in April.

The former miner, who worked at Wearmouth Colliery for 16 years from 1977, said: “It’s the first one I’ve been an officer of the DMA, It’s special.

“It’s the 150th anniversary of the DMA which is a milestone in itself. It’s a real honour to be able to officiate.”

The Northern Echo:

Mr Mardghum, who described the current Brexit impasse as “the most divisive period on one issue”, said the only solution was a general election.

In his first gala message he said: “The far right agenda seeks to divide us from those collective endeavours – setting communities against each other and driving wedges between families.

“We are distracted from the real issues facing our communities and families while the Tories drag us through the political mire.

“The Tories started this mess and cannot get us out of it.”

Speaking ahead of the event, he added: “Our interest in Corbyn’s politics hasn’t waned.

“As individuals we have a choice between socialism or barbarism. That’s where we are at.

“We can have the politics of Corbyn, for the many, not the few or the barbarism of a government led by Johnson or Hunt. The future of that is brutal capitalism.”

This year’s gala on Saturday, July 13, which is the 135th, marks the 150th anniversary of the Durham Miners’ Association and has the theme of “respect”.

Mr Mardghum said: “Working class communities are founded on a tremendous amount of respect. Gala day is all about that. It’s all inclusive. That’s the message.

“I think it started to get lost under Thatcher because she promoted a culture of everybody for themselves and there’s no such thing as society or community. Striving to make as much money as possible. That’s in total opposition to working class culture.

“We’re trying to roll that back. We’re about community and looking out for each other.”

Speaking about the future of the gala, he said enthusiasm for the event showed “no sign” of slowing down.

He added: “It’s a great day. I’m really excited and nervous in equal measure. I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s humbling really. The second Saturday in July is our big demonstration to say we are still here and see all the generations coming down.”