The Durham Miners’ Gala is one of the great annual events in our movement. It’s an opportunity for a whole region to meet in solidarity and celebrate working class cultural and regional pride. Hundreds of thousands of people from the North East and across the country come together, banners and flags waving high, serenaded by dozens of brass bands whose music bounces off the buildings of Durham’s narrow, winding streets.
It’s an incredible spectacle, the only event of its kind in the world, and I’m so proud that UNISON has been a proud supporter and a major contributor to the “Big Meeting” as it continues to go from strength to strength.
Like Tolpuddle, Burston and other fantastic labour movement events, Durham is about both our movement’s past and our future. As the Durham Miners’ motto says “the past we inherit, the future we build”. In our union, we know exactly what that means – no-one owns our union, we nurture and defend it, we hold it in trust and pass it on to the next generation. Our values, our victories – but also, as in Durham, our proud traditions too.
As I told the crowd on Saturday, there are those who say that trade unionism is on the wane, but let our growing union and the incredible Durham Miners’ Gala be an antidote to such talk. Our movement remains as vital today as it ever was – and it’s all of our responsibility to come together, at a time of such great challenges, to fight, not just for the present of our movement, but for its future too.