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Thousands mark the annual With Banners Held High festival in honour of the miners' strike

THOUSANDS marched in Wakefield on Saturday to mark the annual With Banners Held High festival honouring the 1984-5 miners’ strike against pit closures.

Trade unionists, political campaigners, ex-miners and families were among 2,000 people, led by two bands, carrying 34 trade union, campaign group and political party banners.

The march was led by nine banners of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Yorkshire was Britain’s largest coalfield before Tory butchery closed the pits. Ex-miners from Durham also took part in the festival.

GMB Yorkshire and North Derbyshire regional secretary Neil Derrick was among the speakers.

“When we mobilise together we can change the world — and we need to now more than ever,” he told the enthusiastic crowd.

“Our people, our working people, are under threat. Great Britain is unequal and badly run.”

He said communities and workers were being “savaged” by zero-hours contracts, redundancies, cuts and other problems.

“Last year 600 homeless people died on the streets — 49 of them in Yorkshire,” he said.

Transport union RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley warned of the growing rise of fascism and the far right in Britain, including Tommy Robinson and others seeking election to the European Parliament.

“Some people say they will not be in the Parliament for long, so it doesn’t matter. But it does matter, because they will say we’re not in Europe now, so we need to be in Parliament in Westminster.”

He said people calling for a boycott of the elections were “misguided.”

But Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths defended the party’s call for a boycott.

“A boycott is the best way of making the point that this election is illegitimate,” he told the Star.

“The people of Britain voted to withdraw from the European Union and its institutions, including its sham Parliament in Brussels.

“The Communist Party is appealing to Leave and Remain supporters to unite behind that democratic decision and popular sovereignty by boycotting next Thursday’s election.

“Electors, particularly working-class electors, who oppose EU membership, do not have to vote for the Brexit Party or Ukip when they can make their protest strongly by staying away from this sham election to a sham institution.”

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