Daniel Harris reports from this year’s ‘Big Meeting’, where leading figures from the labour movement addressed large crowds with militant speeches.
Last Saturday marked the 134th Durham Miners’ Gala. This time the event was bookended by the People, Pits and Politics event and the Momentum National Conference. As such, it managed to capture national media attention and draw in high-profile speakers from the labour movement. These included Dennis Skinner MP, the Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, and US Senator Bernie Sanders, who appeared in a recorded video message.
Matt Wrack, chairman of the Fire Brigades Union, was also invited back after his moving speech last year in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster. He returned with perhaps the most radical message of anyone on the stage, even calling for the overthrow of capitalism!
Socialist Appeal comrades from the length and breadth of the country were in attendance. Our tent attracted a great deal of passers-by, with people engaging in thorough discussion and buying our material.
We also gained a number of signatories for the Labour4Clause4 petition, calling for the restoration of Labour’s original socialist clause. Included amongst our sign-ups was Laura Smith, Labour MP for Crewe and Nantwich. Her enthusiasm for the Clause IV campaign’s demand is reflective of the appetite for socialist policies within the wider labour movement.
The Labour Party is on its strongest footing for a long time, and is at last within touching distance of power. Meanwhile, the Tories’ situation couldn’t be more dire, with the Prime Minister flip-flopping between trying to satisfy the Europhiles and Brexiteers within her party.
The coming period is therefore one of great significance, which we must prepare ourselves for politically. The speakers on the platform reflected this, making militant speeches and openly talking about the need to fight for a socialist alternative.
The task now is for the leaders of the labour movement to put these words into action.