As we have seen over the last decade, when the government fails, it is our communities and working people that pay the price. Grahame Morris MP
Seaham Carnival continues to grow, and the Parade of Miners Banner has been a fantastic addition to the weekend.
A week after Durham Miners Gala, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to speak at our very own Seaham Mini Gala, showcasing our local banners.
Thank you to everyone who came to Seaham Carnival, and I hope you enjoyed the weekend.
Seaham Miners Gala Speech
Good Morning, can I welcome the Mayor of Seaham, and thank Joe McVeigh, Stephen Guy, Durham Miners Association and the banner groups led by Ray Sutherland for organising Seaham’s Miners Gala, as part of the Carnival celebrations.
This follows the success of last week’s Big Meeting which delivered record crowds, warm weather, and showcased the best of our culture and heritage through our banners and music.
Thanks also to Pittington Brass Band for leading in the banners today.
Our community was built on coal, and I was proud to see the banners from Seaham, Dawdon and Vane Tempest honouring the solidarity and comradeship forged in the heat, dangers and darkness of these pits.
These occasions are a mix of emotions.
Coal mining was a dangerous occupation.
180 men and boys lost their lives in two Seaham mining disasters in 1871 and 1880. In a time of weak labour laws, a lack of trade union rights and no parliamentary representation, children as young as 14, and men as old as 71 died in these disasters.
Industrial disease would cut lives short, and on a day like today, I take time to remember my father and grandfather who were taken too early from this world.
The past we inherit, the future we build, is a message transcribed on many banners.
It is a message I take to parliament, as we campaign to recover the billions stolen from the Mineworkers Pension Scheme, money that should be going to miners and their widows.
And after 40 years, it is time we finally receive the truth about Orgreave and the Miners Strike, and how the government of the day turn every tool of the state against working people in an attempt to break the trade union movement.
However, it is the second part – the future we build that we must focus upon.
The country is once again in flux – a Prime Minister squatting in Downing Street, and a rabble of wannabe Prime Ministers explaining how the country has been on the wrong course over recent years.
If Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss or Penny Mordaunt are the answer, we are asking the wrong question.
Whoever is selected, the next Prime Minister would have been at the heart of government fiddling while 3 million children fall into poverty, millions of families are dependent on food banks, and we despair at rising energy costs, food bills and petrol prices as the government lose control of the economy.
As we have seen over the last decade, when the government fails, it is our communities and working people that pay the price.
We want a return to normality after Covid, instead, we have a government that cannot process a passport or driving licence on time, holiday plans in ruin with cancelled flights, ambulances taking hours to attend incidents and are then waiting stacked outside A&E units, and NHS dentist appointments are as rare as hen’s teeth.
The Conservative Party do not only have the wrong policies, but they are lacking the competence and credibility to govern.
We need to move forward.
And we also need to be honest.
Labour is very good at criticising, which is a trap of being in Opposition.
But we need to show we are ready for Government, by setting out a distinctive policy agenda.
It is why I campaign to abolish the punitive and unfair council tax, in favour of a proportional property tax, that would save families in East Durham on average £900 a year.
This would be a cost of living, investment and economic stimulus for our community.
More money in your pocket to pay bills and use on our high streets which are in desperate need of support.
While we struggle, the government have created a thriving environment for crime and anti-social behaviour.
Our police service has had a hard time.
We still have over 30,000 fewer police staff today, than we did in 2010.
A call to 101 or 999, is no guarantee that our over-stretch police services will be able to help.
We need to restore Community Policing.
Labour’s promise to create Policing Community Hubs is an investment in preventative policing that does not only respond to crime and anti-social behaviour but prevents it from happening.
Finally, we need investment to upgrade our infrastructure.
I am angry, that week in, week out, people are late to work, college and school, they miss appointments, and plans are ruined, for the want of a reliable train service.
I have been wedged in on a match day, on overcrowded, dangerous trains, that were outdated three decades ago let alone today.
My anger is stoked further still, by the knowledge that we have unique train manufacturers like VivaRail on our doorstep, building battery-powered, clean and green trains that could meet the demands of our community.
Our best days are ahead of us, if only we can remove the roadblock of a Conservative Government holding back and levelling down our communities.
The past we inherit, the future we build, and the same is true with coal.
The coal which built our community but damaged our environment, will have a new lease of life, providing clean and green heat and energy.
Mine water treatment schemes such as the one at Dawdon could help heat Britain’s homes. Seaham’s Garden Village will be a world leader utilising geothermal heat from disused mines to warm homes in our community.
Our story and connection to coal has not ended and may only be beginning.
There is still power in our pits, power in our community, and we have the power to secure a better future for tomorrow and for our children.
Thank you for attending Seaham Miners Gala, as without your support, today’s event would not be possible.
I encourage people to not only want change, but to be a part of change, join Labour, join a Trade Union, and together we will shape our future and change our country for the better.