‘Biggest crowd for years’ expected to greet Jeremy Corbyn at Durham Miners Gala

Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images.
Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

A union chief says big crowd is expected to greet Jeremy Corbyn at the Durham Miners Gala in summer.

Mr Corbyn will be the first Labour leader to attend the event since Ed Miliband in 2012.

Dave Hopper, the general secretary of the Durham Miners Association (DMA), predicts that Mr Corbyn ‘will receive a tremendous reception at the gala’.

Mr Hopper said: “He has received the biggest mandate ever in Labour’s history and probably is the first socialist leader of the party since Keir Hardie.

“I expect we will get the biggest crowd for years.

“Last year the police estimated there were 150,000 people there. That’s some crowd, considering there are no pits left.”

Mr Corbyn swept to the top job with a massive mandate from the grassroots but has split his party over his left wing views.

And former leader Neil Kinnock, speaking yesterday in the New Statesman, warned that Mr Corbyn should resign or face a leadership revolt if Labour’s performance does not improve with the electorate.

Mr Hopper believes thousands of former pitmen and their families will give Mr Corbyn a warm reception when he attends the event on Saturday, July 9.

He said: “It will be great for the Labour Party as it’s rock solid Labour here. If Labour can’t get support here, I don’t know what to do.”

It is traditional for the Labour leader to attend galas but John Smith, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown never did so while heading the party.

Mr Hopper is glad that Mr Blair and Mr Brown never attended, as for him they were ‘career politicians’.

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

“His record for working people, here and in Iraq, was terrible. Gordon Brown was the same – a walking disaster.”

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party and Frances O’Grady general secretary of the TUC, will also be attending the 132nd gala.

The traditional showcase will start with a church service at Durham Cathedral, then a procession of miners’ banners and colliery bands will parade through the city.

They will lead to the racecourse where speeches will be made by dignitaries and a funfair for families.

Mr Corbyn was in the region yesterday to offer support to former Redcar steel workers after their plant closed last year.

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