Corbyn to get warm welcome at Durham Miners' Gala amid Labour Party turmoil


Embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to be warmly welcomed by grassroots supporters when he attends the 132nd Durham Miners' Gala.

More than 150,000 people are expected to attend the annual event, which is one of the central fixtures of the Labour movement's calendar.

This year's gala, known as the Big Meeting, has been overshadowed by a row sparked by the ongoing turmoil at the top of the Labour Party.

MPs who joined the revolt by a large section of the parliamentary party against Mr Corbyn, including some who represent local constituencies, were reportedly branded traitors and told their invitation to this year's event would be withdrawn.

In a statement earlier this week, Durham Miners' Association general secretary Dave Hopper clarified the situation, saying: "Contrary to recent press reports, Labour MPs who refused to support Jeremy Corbyn in the recent vote of confidence have not been 'banned' or 'barred' from attending this year's Gala. The Gala is a public event which anyone can attend.

"However, the invitations to attend the official Durham Miners' Association events and functions, stand on the balcony of the County Hotel and grace the platform on the Racecourse have been rescinded.

"Jeremy Corbyn is a guest of the Durham Miners' Association at this year's Gala and we will not allow those who have sought to humiliate him and undermine the democratic process in the Labour Party the honour of taking part in the aforementioned Gala traditions."

City of Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods resigned her role as a shadow housing minister and signed the motion of no confidence in Mr Corbyn.

Responding to messages of support on Twitter, Professor Blackman-Woods posted: "Huge thanks for support, I'll still be attending so please don't let it stop you if you want to go!"

The Big Meeting is billed as the biggest annual trade union event in the UK but has had a chequered relationship with previous Labour leaders.

Ed Miliband attended once during his tenure and Tony Blair never made it to the gala during his 13 years in charge.