New Tory MPs ‘not welcome’ at Durham Miners’ Gala

Jeremy Corbyn and others Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn attended the event in each of the years that he was Labour leader

There is “no chance” new Tory MPs will be invited to the Durham Miners’ Gala, the area’s miners’ association president has said.

Alan Mardghum paraphrased the prime minister to say he would “rather die in a ditch” than see members of the Conservative Party, which had done “its best to destroy miners”, attend.

The area was a Labour stronghold but it recently lost four of its seven seats.

The gala is the UK’s biggest annual gathering of trade union members.

Some of the area’s new MPs have now expressed a desire to attend.

Richard Holden, who took North West Durham for the Conservatives, said: “With four out of the seven seats across County Durham with Conservative MPs I think it is right that we attend one of the most important cultural days in its annual calendar.

“The Durham Miners’ Gala is… absolutely central to the life of the North East and me and other Tory MPs will definitely be there.”

Dehenna Davison, who triumphed in the Bishop Auckland constituency, said: “Mr Mardghum’s lack of willingness to engage with County Durham’s new MPs speaks volumes.

“The motto of the NUM is ‘The past we inherit, the future we build’. The gala is a chance to celebrate our past, and despite our political differences I would be happy to sit down with Mr Mardghum to talk about how we can build a better future together.”

Image caption Richard Holden said it was “right Conservatives attend one of the most important cultural days in the local calendar

More than 100,000 people attend the July event known as the “Big Meeting”, with the day featuring marching bands, political speeches and a service of thanksgiving at Durham Cathedral.

It is organised by the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA), and official guests in the past have included Labour stalwarts including Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Benn, Neil Kinnock and Ed Milliband.

Mr Mardghum said there would be “categorically no chance” that any Conservative politician would receive an official invite to the event.

“To paraphrase Johnson, I’d rather be found dead in a ditch than invite them”, he said.

“They did their best to absolutely destroy Durham miners and the miners of Great Britain.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

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