JEREMY CORBYN will vow today to address a future Durham Miners’ Gala as Prime Minister, in a clear sign of confidence that he can defeat any challenge to his leadership — and the Tories.
James Callaghan was the last Labour prime minister to make the pilgrimage to Durham in 1978, as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown snubbed the Gala throughout their 13 years in Downing Street.
But Mr Corbyn will say: “Thank you for inviting me to this wonderful festival of solidarity.
“It was an honour to speak here last year during the leadership contest. It’s a massive honour to speak here today as Labour leader.
“And it will be an even bigger honour to speak here as a Labour prime minister.”
Mr Corbyn will not directly tackle the faltering coup being waged against him at Westminster when he takes the stage at the 132nd “Big Meeting” this afternoon.
But he will place a heavy emphasis on the importance of solidarity in his speech at the legendary display of trade union pride, which will resonate in the current political climate.
He will say “solidarity is the cornerstone of our labour movement” and urge the audience, which will include many mutinous MPs, to “come together to oppose this government.”
Gala organisers have shown solidarity with Mr Corbyn by cancelling invitations to attend official functions to Labour MPs who did not back the leader in the recent confidence vote.
And Mr Corbyn is expected to receive a rousing reception when he addresses more than 150,000 trade unionists and their families this afternoon.
Writing in today’s Morning Star, Durham Miners’ Association general secretary Dave Hopper predicts the event will give the embattled leader an “injection of resistance.”
Mr Hopper writes: “This year’s Gala will, in my opinion, give Corbyn a boost to resist all of the treacherous attempts to remove him.
“He was elected because he is a decent, honest, conviction politician.
“I hope this 132nd Gala will send a strong clear message to the plotters that their time is up and Corbyn can only be removed by the people who put him there — the membership.”
The Labour leader received a further boost yesterday from Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.
“Jeremy is leader of party and our union continues to support him,” Mr Prentis told the union’s Labour Link conference.
“If there is a leadership election we will follow our procedures but my very, very, very strong view is that Unison would support Jeremy in any election.
“He will go on the ballot paper and he will win.”
An emergency motion passed at the conference also expressed support but emphasised that Labour “should appear as a government in waiting to the electorate.”
Mr Corbyn will seek to move past party infighting in his speech today by concentrating fire on the Tories and setting out his vision for a Labour government.
He will say: “Poverty is not inevitable, this grotesque inequality is not inevitable, it is a choice. Austerity is a political choice not an economic necessity.
“The choice of a Tory government every bit as committed to rolling back the state as Margaret Thatcher was.
“A Labour government will make very different choices. We will not stand by — no-one will be left behind.”
The Labour leader will also address the threat to his party in its heartlands from Ukip, saying: “We know the Tories don’t care about the north, but neither does Ukip.
“Where Labour builds solidarity, Ukip sows divisions. Prejudice gives you someone to blame but it doesn’t build a school, it doesn’t build a hospital, it doesn’t create a good skilled job.”