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This year's Durham Miners' Gala to be dedicated to key workers

BRITAIN’S biggest celebration of working-class history, solidarity and culture will be dedicated this year to key workers during the coronavirus pandemic, the Durham Miners Association (DMA) told the Star today.

The Durham Miners’ Gala will take place online for the first time ever on Saturday due to Covid-19.

DMA secretary Alan Mardghum told the Morning Star that the association was determined that it would go ahead.

“We thought it was important that although we could not have the Gala, that we kept people in touch and involved and let the government know that we are still here and still fighting for our communities,” he said.

The DMA also decided that the event would involve as impressive a line-up of speakers as those usually on the platform at Durham racecourse field addressing crowds of more than 100,000 people.

“We are dedicating the Gala to the key workers in the pandemic,” said Mr Mardghum.

“We will have rank-and-file speakers from all the key sectors that have kept us going during the pandemic — people who have been at the sharp end.”

The thousands who are expected to sign up online to participate in the Gala will hear from front-line firefighters, nurses, hospital porters, ambulance paramedics, care home workers, shop workers — each representing the tens of thousands of key workers who have played their vital part during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We want them to tell us what it has been like for them, tell us about their own experiences,” he said.

There will be speakers from national campaign groups fighting for justice including for mineworkers battered at Orgreave, victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster, blacklisted construction workers arrested at Shrewsbury and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Traditionally the Gala is addressed by the leader of the Labour Party.

Labour leader Keir Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner, a long-time guest at the Gala, will be taking part in Saturday’s event.

The tradition began with Labour’s first leader Keir Hardie in 1905 and continued until the beginning of the Blairite era.

Neither John Smith, Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown addressed the Gala. The tradition was resumed in 2012 by Ed Miliband.

The Gala will be chaired by Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack and will be broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.

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