This weekend, hundreds of thousands of workers and trade unionists will gather at the Durham Miners’ Gala. This platform should be used by the leaders of the labour movement to raise the ideas of socialism.
There’s something in the air. The Tories are in crisis – in fact, they are tearing each other apart. As Theresa May attempts to paper over the cracks, Boris Johnson and the other wannabee leaders are jostling for position. More than a year after the snap election, all the old problems remain for British capitalism.
Meanwhile, in London, thousands are preparing to take to the streets in protest against Donald Trump’s visit and the vile ideas and rotten system that he represents.
At the same time, this Saturday in Durham, the “Big Meeting” will act as a rallying point for hundreds of thousands of trade unionists and workers. Year upon year, there are more banners and more solidarity from across the country and abroad.
But as well as the sense of tradition and community, there’s also an opportunity: an opportunity to translate all of this energy and enthusiasm, all of the commitment, and all of the strength of our movement, into a real force to change society.
For years the former coalfields and other working class communities have experienced the cold cynicism of Tory revenge and felt the brunt of the vindictive austerity measures that have attacked our families, our friends, and our neighbours. Young people have no work, and the poor, sick, and disabled are subject to the cruelty of ATOS assessments and the much-hated bedroom tax.
It’s ten years now since the financial crash of 2008. The Tory press would have you believe that the economy is booming. But the truth is that this is the weakest economic “recovery” since 1821! It’s no surprise then that the Tories are so unpopular.
But there’s more to it than that. Capitalism is in a deep crisis across the whole world and working people are looking for a way out.
Jeremy Corbyn will get a fantastic response in Durham. For many years the Labour leaders sought to distance themselves from the Gala and what it represents. Corbyn’s election in 2015 represented a huge shift in British politics. After years of pent up anger, disillusionment and despair, at last we have a Labour leader who can connect with the movement.
Despite the best efforts of the Tory press, the BBC, and the right wing of the Labour Party – who represent the shadows of the ruling class in the labour movement – Corbyn is in a stronger position now than he was three years ago.
Socialist ideas never went away, but now they are gaining ground. For the first time in a generation the socialist ideals of the Labour Party – as represented by the old Clause IV, part 4 – are being discussed.
The Corbyn movement has been presented with a huge opportunity to transform the Labour Party from top to bottom. To do this, we must begin by bringing in mandatory reselection, so that we can kick out Blairite careerists and saboteurs.
But this should only be the start. Labour needs a socialist programme that will put an end to the horror and misery of capitalism. Such a programme would mobilise thousands; millions.
Even among the so-called left leaders of the movement, some want to try and postpone the day that we set upon this path. But this struggle should start from the stage this weekend at the Durham Miners’ Gala.