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article imageRicky Tomlinson and Owen Jones speak at Durham Miners’ Gala

By Mathew Wace Peck     Jul 16, 2013 in Politics
Durham - The actor and activist Ricky Tomlinson joined the Independent journalist Owen Jones in addressing the 123rd Durham Miners’ Gala.
Tomlinson, 73, had been invited to address the Big Meeting by 77-year-old George Rowe, a retired pitman from Houghton.
“Margaret Thatcher destroyed the mines but she never destroyed the miners or their spirit,” Tomlinson said, referring to the former British Tory Prime Minister who died in early April.
Jones, 29, a weekly columnist with the British broadsheet newspaper the Independent and its sister i newspaper, also addressed the crowds.
According to the Sunderland Echo, “40,000 people attended the Gala [carrying] 70 banners and 30 bands were paraded through the street to celebrate this year’s event,” which was held in Durham City.
Earlier this year, Tomlinson – who is probably best known for his ongoing role, Jim Royle, in Caroline Aherne’s The Royle Familyreturned to television screens alongside Luke Newberry in Dominic Mitchell’s zombie drama In the Flesh.
Jones is the author of the Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class and involved with the UK grassroots campaign, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
Rowe, the Sunderland Echo reports, was instrumental in reigniting public interest in the almost-century-and-a-quarter-old Durham Miners’ Gala, by resurrecting missing banners for Houghton and Lambton collieries and promoting the city’s proud industrial heritage to local schoolchildren.
Meanwhile, Len McCluskey – the general secretary of trade union Unite – also spoke at the event. During his speech, the Journal reports, McCluskey warned the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, that while he was prepared to consider his changes to rules governing membership of the party, “Labour had ‘no God-given right to exist.’”
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