Durham Miners Association (DMA) today (21/01/2020) clarified its position on invitations to the annual Gala.
DMA secretary Alan Mardghum said all people were welcome to attend the Durham Miners’ Gala regardless of their voting choices in the general election.
He said newly-elected Tory MPs would not be invited as guests of the DMA as they have made no contribution to the Gala.
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.
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.
“We work the year round with Durham Constabulary, fire brigade and other emergency services to make sure the event runs smoothly. It is, after all, a fantastic celebration of the heritage and culture of the people of the Durham coalfield.”