Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Big Meeting Fills Streets; Banners Honoured in City Sun

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Big Meeting Fills Streets; Banners Honoured in City Sun

Article excerpt

FUN enjoys THOUSANDS took to the streets at the weekend to support the 129th Durham Miners' Gala.

Durham City was flooded with families young and old as different generations arrived on Saturday to support the event which sees a parade of colourful colliery banners and performances from local brass bands.

A number of speakers also took to the stage at Durham University Racecourse at Green Lane as part of the Gala, including Unite general secretary Len McCluskey who warned the Labour Party had "no God given right to exist" and said it must remain the voice of the ordinary working people.

The union boss said: "I want to make it clear the Labour Party must understand it has no God given right to exist, it can only exist if it remains the voice of ordinary people and organised labour."

While Mr McCluskey praised those Labour MPs he deemed "fantastic" he said it was a serious problem that from general election to general election the party was becoming more and more out of touch.

"However, the Parliamentary Labour Party today does not look like or think like the community it seeks to represent," he said.

Mr McCluskey was the final speaker at the Durham Miners' Gala which attracted tens of thousands of people from across the region who came out to support the annual event.

During his speech, the union leader directly challenged Labour leader Ed Miliband, but admitted he was ready for reform and to engage following Mr Miliband's proposed reformed links with the trade unions.

Mr McCluskey's speech comes days after his trade union was accused of trying to rig a Labour parliamentary candidate election in Falkirk.

In reference to the candidacy row, he said his union had been "giving the working class a stake in our democracy" and said he made "no apology for that to anybody".

But he admitted he was "ready for reform" and was a supporter of Mr Miliband who became the first Labour leader in more than two decades to address the gala last year. However he did not attend on Saturday. …

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