Tory MPs vow to attend Durham Miners Gala after organiser said he’d ‘rather die in a ditch’ than invite them
Tory MPs from the North East have vowed to attend the Durham Miners Gala this year after its organiser said he would “rather be found dead in a ditch” than invite them.
Alan Mardghum was accused of “idiocy” by a minister after he said Conservatives would not be welcome at the event and would need police security to attend.
That is despite four of the seven constituencies now being represented by a Tory after the party made a host of gains in the region at last month’s election.
But Mr Mardghum, Durham Miners Association president, told the BBC: “To paraphrase [Boris] Johnson, I would rather be found dead in a ditch than invite them, or Johnson, to the gala.
He added: “We never saw Arthur Scargill invited to the Tory party conference.
"Why would we invite Tories to the Durham Miners' Gala?
"They did their best to absolutely destroy the Durham miners and the miners of Great Britain."
Mr Mardghum said he could not stop MPs coming to the gala as “it’s a free country”, but added: “I would suggest that if any of them are thinking of coming in, that they speak to the police who do an absolutely marvellous job ensuring all of our personal security.
“So they might need to speak to the police to make sure that they're safe on the day."
Dehenna Davison, who in December became the first Conservative to be elected MP for Bishop Auckland, tweeted: “See you there, Alan.”
She was backed up by Lee Anderson, the new Tory MP for Ashfield, who replied: “As an ex-miner and a Conservative MP I would be glad to join you my friend.”
And Simon Clarke, the Tory MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland tweeted: “What too many Labour outriders - and MPs, and former MPs - seem to misunderstand is just how unpleasant this kind of idiocy looks to the wider public.”
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury added: “The North East is now exactly 50/50 in terms of Conservative/Labour representation.
“I represent more working miners than anyone.”
Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “Fun Fact: There are 7 seats in County Durham.
Tories took 4 of them in last month's election. 123,112 people voted Conservatives vs. 122,547 Labour voters.
“We're the majority. 'Othering' Conservative representatives and voters only means we stay that way.”
New Tory MP Richard Holden, who won Laura Pidcock's North West Durham seat, has previously said he would be "more than happy" to go to the Gala.
He told the Chronicle newspaper: “On the doorstep of every colliery village I've been knocking on, I've had ex-miners, their children and widows tell me that they had never voted Conservative, but would now.
"Actual working-class people in the North East have basically rejected the class war politics."
The gala is an annual gathering of trade unionists and miners, and has long been strongly pro-Labour, with Jeremy Corbyn and other senior party figures giving speeches in recent years.