Durham Miners’ Gala stalwarts Bob Crow and Tony Benn to be remembered at this year’s event

Durham Miners' Gala
Durham Miners' Gala

TWO staunch socialists will be remembered with a commemorative brochure during this year’s Durham Miners’ Gala.

Bob Crow, Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union leader and former MP Tony Benn, were popular speakers at the gala on several occasions in recent years.

Bob Crow

Bob Crow

So it was a double blow to Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) when the activists died within three days of each other earlier this month.

But DMA general secretary Dave Hopper said there are plans for a commemorative brochure in tribute to the pair published for this year’s Big Meet, which will be the 130th, and takes place in Durham City on Saturday, July 12.

He also announced that speakers will be GMB general secretary Paul Kenny, Mick Whelan, general secretary for the train drivers and operators union ASLEF, veteran Labour left-winger and MP for Bolsover, Dennis Skinner, and Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association.

Mr Hopper said: “This year we will be missing two men from the platform who are irreplaceable.

Tony Benn

Tony Benn

“We are trying to arrange for some sort of commemorative brochure to honour the two men.”

Mr Crow died from a heart attack aged just 52 on March 11.

Leading the RMT from 2002, he became one of Britain’s most high-profile union leaders.

Mr Benn, who was 88 and a Labour MP for 51 years, had been a popular public speaker, anti-war campaigner and political diarist.

Describing the loss of Mr Benn, who died on March 14, Mr Hopper said: “I think we have lost a tremendous man in the movement, a man who was a great, great friend of the Durham miners.”

He said Mr Benn, who he hailed as “Labour’s lost leader”, had spoken more than most at the Big Meet and “that puts him in a very, very special place”.

He said although Mr Benn’s death was “not totally unexpected”, Mr Crow’s was, and this had left an “unfillable void”.

He added: “We have lost two men in such a short time and it is such a tragic blow for the movement.”