|Volume 46 Number 17, July 18, 2016||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
"The last Gala of the twentieth century takes place a few weeks after NATO stopped the bombing of Yugoslavia. Who would have thought that a Labour Government would have so readily supported Clinton's bombing campaign with so much relish?"
"Who is to wonder that there is disillusionment when those in most need in our society are under attack through the proposed changed to the Welfare Benefit System, in which the right to Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance has been curtailed."
"More and more we see evidence that the policies of the three major parties have moved closer together. Increasingly Labour appears to be represented by an elite clique and the name 'New Labour' more and more appears to mean ' Old Liberalism'."
Twenty years after the commencement of the miners' strike, on May Day: "The miners' defeat was also a defeat for the working class as a whole."
"The Thatcher government had prepared well for the strike. They manipulated the media to sow division in the trade union movement, and they used the might of the state machine to smash trade union and community resistance. Yet the strike stimulated a magnificent demonstration of solidarity in Britain and across the world. As young miners went courageously into action on mass pickets against the paramilitary national organisation of the police, trade union and socialist activists formed support committees - Throughout the world, the labour and socialist movement came to our assistance."
He continued: "The experience of standing up to the dictates of the owners of wealth and privilege is part of a process of change taking place in the wider working class movement. In factory and workplace - in spite of the blacklist - miners have been called upon to become shop stewards and take office in trade union branches. They carry into the wider movement their experience of struggle against the brutal class nature of the state and the class bias of the judiciary and media."
Dave Hopper pointed out at the Big Meeting that every year the Gala is increasingly getting financially attacked by the authorities, and he said the DMA is in a very, very difficult situation to keep it going. But he hailed the support of the Friends of the Durham Miners Gala and the trade unions who have supported the gala through thick and thin, and will no doubt continue their support as long as there is a Gala in Durham. He assured those that took part that whilst there had been some speculation in the press, "We will be back next year - that's a certainty!"
"Despite all the attempts by the Tory press and media to write us out of history, we are still here in massive numbers to celebrate our community spirit and carry our socialist message on behalf of the working class."
"Capitalism has failed the people. The banking system was brought to its knees by the relentless drive to extort profit from the efforts of working people and now the bankers continue their parasitic activity while the poorest are made to pay.
"Politicians of all parties are all talking about aspirations as if aspirations are exclusive to the middle class. The subtext, of course, is the daft idea that the lower classes have no aspirations and are content to live off benefits. But we all have aspirations. Aspirations to live in an equal society where there is adequate social housing, schools and healthcare for everyone and where the sick and disabled are looked after and those who are unemployed are treated with dignity.
"Capitalism has proved incapable of providing such a society, so surely we must start with the aspiration to create a socialist society and demonstrate to the 15 million who did not vote in this election that there is an alternative to the career politicians.
"It is not going to be easy but they have drawn the battle lines. We have to resist these attacks on the weakest in our society and give our youth an opportunity in life. So let's start the fight back at today's Gala."
On the Trade Union Bill (now an Act): "How can a government elected by a tiny percentage of the electorate demand that a trade union ballot can only be valid if a certain percentage of people vote. It is even more hypocritical when we consider that in Parliament there are no secret ballots and no requirement for a certain percentage of MPs to vote."