THOUSANDS OF people attended the biggest Durham Miners Gala in over a decade on Saturday of last week. The event was co-sponsored by the National Union of Mineworkers and the Unison union. It attracted the support of many other trade unions, including the RMT, Aslef and Usdaw.
The gala had as one of its themes fighting the Nazi BNP. The North East United Against the BNP, which has the support of all major unions and anti-fascist organisations, had circulated thousands of leaflets around workplaces leading up to the gala.
Union delegations from as far afield as Northern Ireland attended the event. The march was the youngest many local activists can remember. A campaign against school closures received an especially warm welcome from the thousands of people lining the streets of Durham to watch the procession wind through the streets. The Northern Region of Unison supplied anti-racist and anti-fascist placards for the march.
Speakers at the event included Mick Rix from the train drivers' union Aslef. He urged all trade unionists to unite against the threat posed by the BNP. Labour MP Dennis Skinner celebrated the fact that Britain is a multiracial society. Many of the platform speakers denounced the occupation of Iraq and talked about the need the reclaim the Labour Party from Tony Blair.
This met with a warm reception, but socialists also found a response putting forward the argument that a genuine socialist alternative outside the Labour Party was needed.