Supporters of the Gala respond to a letter attacking event in the local press

Tim Lezard Europe, UK,

durham miners bannerA letter published in the Northern Echo, describing attendees of the Durham Miners’ Gala as “red flag-waving losers”, has seen trade unionists leap to the defence of the event.

A man named Mike Cunningham wrote: “Durham residents are no doubt preparing for the annual invasion of political losers, drunks, brass bands, tattered and threadbare banners, communist fellow-travellers and all things unionised – along, of course, with ever more drunks – as the day draws ever closer for the Durham Miners’ Gala.”

He goes on to describe the event, attended by thousands of people from all over the UK, as “outdated” and says it’s run by a group of socialists who “couldn’t organise a booze-up in a brewery”.

It didn’t take long for trade unionists to respond online. While some contributors were polite and patient, others found it harder to restrain their feelings towards Mr Cunningham.

Someone describing themselves as ‘The True North’ wrote: “Mr Cunningham, as the parade is older than you and will be around long after you have left this earth, I propose that you leave Durham for good and take your sad, desperate opinion with you. You sad, sad old man.”

And ‘Milly’s girl’, who says she is aged over 60, wrote: “I am a miner’s daughter and proud of it you sir are a MORON OF THE FIRST DEGREE.

“If it is out dated WHY DO SO MANY GO TO SHOW HOW PROUD WE ARE OF OUR PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, BROTHERS, and UNCLES and the men of the villages we live in that went down the mines and risked their lives daily so idiots like you could have warmth and electricity.”

‘A Gazelle called Adam’ wrote: “Couldn’t organise a booze-up in a brewery….yet every year organise a national, family friendly event, that celebrates the history and culture of our local area. Visitors flock from near and far; many of whom then return to the area to see and do things they didn’t have time for during the gala; further bolstering the local economy and tourism. The behaviour of a drunken minority is seemingly inevitable – and evident in Durham every Saturday to be fair – so please don’t tar all supporters and visitors to this event with the same brush.”

‘Dunholm Tony’ wrote: “I wonder if you’ve ever even been to the Gala. It’s a fantastic atmosphere and a very fitting celebration of the region’s history, a memorial to all those who tragically died in mining disasters and an opportunity to look to a better future where everyone is treated with respect, have roofs over their heads and food on the table. I’m not surprised in the least that a Tory would want to choke off the spirit of optimism that inhabits the Gala every year. Long may it continue.’

And someone calling themselves ‘Mr Tutter’ wrote: “I intend to bare witness to the lowlife debacle and tut alot. Other Conservative voters and decent thinking folk are welcome to join me in the Market Square. I shall be raising eyebrows and tutting a great deal. Join me.”

The Durham Miners’ Gala takes place on  July 11th.


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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