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.
Last words. Solidarity. No Pasaran.
High-resolution gallery here. Just click on any picture.