Durham miners' leader denies 'implied threat' to Tory MPs over Gala attendance

Durham Miners Association has confirmed newly-elected Conservative MPs will not be invited to the Durham Miners’ Gala as its guests.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 5:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 6:33 am
Durham Miners Association secretary Alan Mardghum. Photograph by Kevin Brady.

A number of new Conservative MPs in the region has suggested they plan to attend this year’s gathering, and a political war or words has broken out over the matter.

DMA secretary Alan Mardghum said all people were welcome to attend the Gala regardless of how they voted in the General Election but added that newly-elected Tory MPs would not be invited as guests of the association as they have made no contribution to the Gala.

The DMA said: “Formal invitations are sent to those who support the Gala and the labour and trade union movement. This has been the case since 1871. The list includes local mayors, councillors, some MPs and trade union leaders.

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The DMA is the organiser of the Gala and has a duty of care to keep all people who attend safe. That duty involves months of liaison with police and other authorities to ensure all aspects of safety and security.”

Mr Mardghum said: “Conservative MPs have never attended the Durham Miners Gala as official invitees or, as far as we know, the parade itself. None of them have ever supported the DMA or Gala.

“The idea that we should invite them now is simply ludicrous and was started by a cheeky question from a journalist. This issue is not of our making.

“If they wish to attend along with the people of County Durham and other supporters they are entitled. It is a free country.

“We do, however, have a binding duty of care to ensure the safety of everyone at the Gala. That includes MPs of all parties.

“The current political climate has polarised many and feelings are running high. It is only advisable that anyone in public office seeks advice from the relevant authorities.

“Our position is one of responsibility to the thousands of people who take part in the Gala. It certainly is not an implied threat to any specific group of people who may wish to attend.”