Billy Bragg makes a welcome return to the Dorset trade union event

Tim Lezard

Tolpuddle 2013The Tolpuddle Martyrs themselves take centre stage at this year’s festival with their travails featuring in a play premiered at the Dorset event.

The tale of the six agricultural workers who ended up trade union heroes is told in a new show, We Will Be Free, by Townsend Productions on the Saturday night of the festival (July 20th).

Billy Bragg, whose new album, Tooth and Nail, is currently at number 13 in the UK album charts, makes a welcome return on the Sunday, while veteran reggae outfit Talisman and ska band The Skints headline on the Friday and Saturday nights.

Speakers on the Sunday include the TUC’s new general secretary Frances O’Grady. There is a radical history school taking place on site from the Thursday afternoon.

Festival organiser Nigel Costley said: “The weekend’s programme is more varied than ever before, with some great music, poetry, drama and, of course, the famous Tolpuddle debates.

“We have six debates this year, with themes including the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech, welfare, fairness at work, faith in action, education and austerity.

“As the government launches attack after attack on trade union rights, more and more members are becoming active in their unions and are fighting back against policies that have seen their wages fall while the cost of living rises.

“Tolpuddle has become a key date in the trade union calendar as activists and others recharge their batteries for the battles ahead. Unions, politics, music . . . what’s not to like?”

The festival runs from Friday, July 19th to Sunday, July 21st. Admission on Sunday is free, but visitors will have to pay for weekend passes and camping.

A festival programme can be downloaded here and details of the Radical History School can be found here.

For a film of last year’s festival, click here, and for a film of 2011’s event, click here.

You can follow news of the event on Twitter @TolpuddleFest.





This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
Author avatar

Tim Lezard

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

Read All Articles