Corbyn-sceptic MPs blacklisted from Durham Miners’ Gala

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Labour MPs who have been critical of party leader Jeremy Corbyn are banned from the official reception of the Durham Miners’ Gala for a second consecutive year.

The Gala, now in its 133rd year, is a celebration of County Durham’s coal mining heritage and has also become a symbolic event for the mining industry as a whole.

But while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been invited to speak at the parade for the second year running, the new secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, Alan Cummings, has said “quite a few” parliamentary members of the party will not be welcome on the platform.

“The platform [of the Gala] will reflect the people who have always supported Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and what he stands for.”

The blacklist comes after the Association’s former secretary Dave Hopper threatened to retract official invitations to over 75% of the Labour MPs who backed the vote of no confidence in Mr. Corbyn ahead of last year’s leadership election.

Notable MPs disinvited from the event include:

  • Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, the seat previously held by Tony Blair
  • Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland and a shadow welfare reform minister under Ed Miliband
  • Anna Turley, MP for Redcar who said in 2016 that Mr Corbyn was “completely out of touch with reality”
  • Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland and former Opposition Whip in the Commons (2013-15)
  • Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central and reported backer of Angela Eagle’s leadership challenge to Mr Corbyn
  • Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields who resigned from Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in 2016.
(Sebastiaán Sánchez-Schilling)

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for Durham City since 2005, who was refused invitation last year due to her resignation from the party’s front-bench in June, is not blacklisted this time.

In defence of his decision to implement the de facto speaking ban, Mr Cummings said: “The platform [of the Gala] will reflect the people who have always supported Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and what he stands for.

“Why should the likes of Phil Wilson and other people in this area who criticise him [share the stage]? Them MPs [sic] should realise that if it hadn’t been for the ‘Corbyn factor’ a lot of them might have lost their seats.”

Ms Blackman-Woods, whose constituency majority increased by 5,000 at this year’s election, said: “I think it’s important we all get together and have a united front but it’s very much a Durham Miners event and what I hope is that everyone can get behind the event.”

Photography: Sebastián Sánchez-Schilling

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