Trade union leaders top the bill at Durham Miners’ Gala

POPULAR EVENT: Spectators line the route at last year's Durham Miners' Gala.
POPULAR EVENT: Spectators line the route at last year's Durham Miners' Gala.

THE leaders of two of Britain’s biggest trade unions will be among speakers at this year’s Durham Miners’ Gala.

The general secretaries of Unite, Len McCluskey, and UCATT, Steve Murphy, are among those who will address crowds at Durham Racecourse on Saturday, July 11.

Durham Miners’ Association secretary Dave Hopper will open the proceedings at about 1pm and introduce speeches from Guardian columnist Owen Jones, NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates, Fire Brigades’ Union general secretary Matt Wrack and ASLEF president Tosh McDonald.

One person who will not be attending though is Ed Miliband after organisers decided not to invite the Labour leader, who last spoke at the event in 2012.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to turn out for the 131st Gala, which will see brass and bagpipe bands march through the streets of Durham and on to the Racecourse, where there will be family entertainment and campaign stalls.

Meanwhile, the traditional blessing of the banners service will take place in Durham Cathedral.

Durham city centre will be closed to traffic from 7am on the day, with visitors encouraged to use park and ride buses.

The Gala is the biggest trade union event in Europe with an estimated 100,000 flocking to last year’s event behind 158 banners and 65 bands.