A Long Slow Walk Through Durham City

I USUALLY walk alone but today I’m with thousands of people. The police have estimated crowds at 35,000 – so we can safely say the true number is in the region of 70,000. We’re all on a slow walk through the city of Durham following a long line of colliery and union banners (about 80 in total) and brass bands (50 in total). It’s not easy to walk slowly when your foot’s tapping to March of the Gladiators . . .

The best thing about this walk is that all the people have the same political outlook. They are all suffering under government cuts while the rich plunder the nation’s wealth; they all remember Thatcher with a hatred that’s palpable and occasionally scary; and they all believe there can, and must, be something better. That’s why we’re all looking to this tall bloke on the stage to do something about it. There’s a picture of him further down the post. He’s going to change things. He’d better.

This is the 128th Durham Miners’ Gala, a social and political phenomenon that almost sank into oblivion when the last Durham pits closed in the early 1990s, but which has turned itself around like a coal hewer in a two-foot seam and clawed itself back to the sunshine in a bloody great fanfare of glory.

My wife and I do this walk every year. It’s the best day out ever, because it brings home the certainty that you’re not alone in a world of unparalleled greed where the powerful rule in the interests of the powerful. You are actually in a majority, an overwhelming majority that believes in justice, and equality, and dignity; and free healthcare, education, and care for the elderly – and believes in these things with a passion.

Really, that’s all I need to say.

This is the man who hundreds of thousands of people – in fact, millions – hope is going to change things. That’s a hell of a responsibility. Because if things don’t change, the poor, the infirm, the disabled, the young, the elderly, and even the fit buggers in the middle, are all going to suffer at the hands of a government intent on wrecking public services and returning this country to an era when wealth and privilege ruled over law and democracy. I’m not chucking my rights – what few I possess – out of the window so the shiny-cheeked bastards in the Tory party can get fatter and richer. I’m bloody fighting. Vote for Ed.

Last words. Solidarity. No Pasaran.

High-resolution gallery here. Just click on any picture.

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About McEff

Alen McFadzean. Journalist. Recently made redundant from The Northern Echo when my job was transferred to Wales to be done by people on lower wages. Former shipyard electrician. Former quarryman and tunneller. Climb mountains and run long distances to make life harder. Gravitate to the left in politics just to make life harder still.
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14 Responses to A Long Slow Walk Through Durham City

  1. jcmurray1 says:

    What a fantastic day out that looks like! Unfortunately our ruling elite look at this type of thing “up North” as nothing more than a quaint day out for the peasantry these days. They don’t see it as a political statement anymore and they certainly don’t see it as a threat. Someday, and I’m looking forward to it being soon, their complacency will come back and bite them……………………J

    • McEff says:

      John, it’s time they were bitten good and proper. And kicked as well. And the sooner it starts to happen, the better for everyone.
      Cheers, Alen

  2. OM says:

    Good to see the “enemy within” still alive and kicking

    • McEff says:

      Ah yes, the “enemy within”. On a similar theme, Shami Chakrabarti, one of the speakers at the gala, told how the Sun had branded her “the most dangerous woman in Britain”. She’s so tiny she had to stand on tiptoe to reach the microphone. Me, I’m just glad there are so many enemies and dangerous women within, and that they’re very much alive and kicking. Great video, OM.
      Cheers, Alen

    • McEff says:

      PS. Ed Miliband drove off in a blue 1982 Montego estate. Thought you’d like to know that.

  3. Hanna says:

    Hi Alen. Looks like a great day!

    If we could vaccinate against greed and lust for power, there would be enough for everyone.
    Let’s get rid of greed!

    Many regards
    Hanna

    • McEff says:

      Hej Hanna. Yes. I can’t understand greed. So long as people have enough to live comfortably, why do some people need to take more at the expense of others? It’s time things changed.
      All the best, Alen

  4. Greg. says:

    Howdo Alen, just got back off hols. I think most people want a fair and just country so it is really baffling when people vote conservative. Millions of people seem to or else they would not get in. I think people were maybe disillusioned by Tony Blair and then the tory press went for Gordon in a big way. You only have to see some of the things they’ve proposed to see where they are coming from. The selling off of the forests thing and the buzzard killing thing were prime examples.

    • McEff says:

      Hi Greg. Totally agree with you. I was disillusioned with Blair over Iraq. And I wasn’t all that impressed with Miliband when he was elected – but I’m warming to him. The forests and buzzards things were interesting because the Tories backed down after a bit of pressure and outspoken public opinion. Thatcher would never have done that. She’d have been out with a gun shooting buzzards herself and her followers would have been cheering. Still, I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Hope you had a good holiday.
      Cheers, Alen

  5. Thanks for some real news Alen. I tried to repost this on Facebook as it might enlighten a few…. FB would not allow it….and it’s not the first time.

  6. David says:

    Just catching up with your blog again after a trip to France. It looks like a wonderful atmosphere Alen and good to see a part of our social and political history that Thatcher managed to put down but clearly not destroy alive and kicking. I thought Blair was great when he first came to power but he seemed to develop into a lacky of the corporations quite quickly. Wasn’t it John Major who said something like ” I left my clothes on the beach and went for a swim and when I came back Tony Blair was wearing them”? For me that is the problem with most politicians they seem to be the lackies of the corporations with many from the main parties coming from the old pals network of a few universities.

    Fortunately the next election will be a two horse race without the spineless Tory clones that pass for the libdems as a distraction. Sadly the banner in front of Mr Miliband shows that the seeds of commercial interest are already present and should he get into power it will not be long before he too succumbs the insidious influence of corporate interest. I just hope Mr Miliband has some moral fibre and does not waste the opportunity by lining the pockets of the rich if he gets the chance to change things.

    • McEff says:

      Blimey David. That holiday in France has done you good. The worst thing about going to France – and this is a lesson learnt during the Thatcher era – is that at the end of it you have to come back to Britain and the same old skulduggery at the top of the pile. It was the same then and it’s the same now.
      I haven’t come across that John Major quote before. It’s probably the funniest thing he ever said. And I hope you’re right about Miliband and his moral fibre. He gave a good speech at Durham, and so did Tom Watson, the Birmingham MP who pursued Murdoch and was responsible for instigating the Leveson Inquiry. I just hope there are more like him.
      All the best, Alen

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