Jeremy Corbyn at Durham Miner's Gala attracts thousands

Jeremy Corbyn and othersImage copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Jeremy Corbyn called the Durham Miners' Gala Europe's largest demonstration of working class culture

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has led speeches at the 133rd Durham Miners' Gala.

More than 200,000 people are estimated to have attended the Durham City event, the most since the 1960s.

There was an increased police presence including armed officers although Durham Police said there was no direct threat against the gala.

Mr Corbyn called the event "Europe's biggest demonstration of working class culture".

It is the second year in a row that he has spoken at the gala.Film director Ken Loach also addressed the crowd.


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Media captionJeremy Corbyn was interrupted by a woman on stage

Mr Corbyn told crowds:"It's incredibly important for everyone to be here today.It is the most amazing demonstration of community strength.

"It's grown out of the struggles of the miners during the 19th, 20th and now in this century, it's a community event."

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Ken Loach, centre, also attended the 133rd gala Image copyright Reuters Image caption More than 200,000 people are estimated to have attended

He thanked those who supported Labour's general election campaign and said he was leading a "government in waiting".

He pledged to "call time on austerity" and scrap a cap on public sector pay rises as well introduce a national living wage of £10 an hour.

Mr Corbyn added:"I don't want to live in a Britain of food banks, I want to live in a Britain where people are properly fed because they are paid the wages to be able to afford the food."

He drew boos from the crowd when he mentioned Margaret Thatcher, adding:"Never again must we go through a political attack on a community such as that Thatcher mounted against the mining community."

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The event is a celebration and commemoration of Durham's mining industry

Mr Corbyn was almost finished when there was a disturbance on the stage and he was interrupted by a woman.

She appeared to be pleading with the Labour leader to speak to her and he said he would talk to her after he had finished his address.

There were chants of "Ooh Jeremy Corbyn" from the crowd throughout the afternoon and he was cheered loudly when he finished, holding his arms aloft.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The various bands started the day in different villages and towns around County Durham before meeting in Durham City Image copyright AFP/GETTY IMAGES Image caption There was an increased police presence at the event, including armed officers

Alan Cummings, secretary of Durham Miners' Association, said he had been predicting crowds of 200,000 people and "looking around it looks like we have got that".

He said it was a celebration of the area's history and heritage.

He also downplayed allegations that some Labour MPs who had previously criticised Mr Corbyn had been banned from attending the official functions.

Image copyright AFP/GETTY Images Image caption The bands paraded through the city past the County Hotel from where the dignitaries watch the event Image copyright Reuters Image caption The event is organised by Durham Miners' Assocation

Mr Cummings said:"That's not really true.Durham Miners have got virtually no income, we've had to look at the costs of our hospitality.

"It's not we don't like [those not invited], it's purely down to we have got to have a restriction on the money we spend."

Mr Corbyn refused to be drawn on the issue of some local MPs being disinvited....

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Bands from across the country took part Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Cummings said he had asked the Bishop of Durham to arrange the sunny weather

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Labour bids to defuse Luciana Berger de-selection row

Luciana BergerImage copyright PA Image caption Luciana Berger was re-elected with an increased majority

The new Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery has told the Daily Mirror[1] that he doesn't see the "de-selection" of MPs critical of Jeremy Corbyn "as the way forward".

Chills had gone up some Blairite spines when Mr Lavery himself had suggested at the weekend the Labour "might be too broad a church".

But he sought to calm nerves which had been further put on edge by comments from Mr Corbyn's close ally Chris Williamson, recently re-elected as the MP for Derby North having been narrowly defeated at the 2015 election.

On Thursday, Mr Williamson said:"There are individual MPs in this party who think it's their God-given right to rule.

"No MP should be guaranteed a job for life.Labour is a big church, but we currently have a large bulk of MPs who represent one relatively small tendency in the's unreasonable to think we as MPs can avoid any contest."

'Answerable to us'

His words didn't sound like empty rhetoric to the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, Luciana Berger - seen as being on the moderate wing of the party.

She had resigned as a shadow minister when, a year ago, 80% of Jeremy Corbyn's MPs were expressing no confidence in his leadership.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Jeremy Corbyn has stressed his support for party democracy

A left-wing "slate" of candidates had succeeded in taking almost all of the key offices on her local party's executive.

And one of the winners - Roy Bentham - had shared his thoughts with the Liverpool Echo[2].

He suggested that Ms Berger, who was re-elected last month with an increased majority, publicly recant her criticism of the party leader and for the avoidance of doubt he declared:"She is answerable to us now."

The local party secretary Angela Kehoe-Jones distanced herself from the remarks and suggested the branch was "united" in fighting the Tories.

But there is little doubt that Ms Berger - who is on maternity leave - feels her job is under threat.

And she is not the only one.

'Rogues' gallery'

A Labour MP who held her seat against the odds at the election told me she was threatened with de-selection within 48 hours of the result.

And you only have to visit websites which purport to back the Labour leadership to view a "rogues' gallery" of MPs who are seen as disloyal.

Image caption Chuka Ummuna faced criticism over amendment to Queen's Speech

Featuring on most lists is Chuka Umunna, who upset those close to Mr Corbyn by pushing an amendment to the Queen's Speech to keep Britain in the EU single market - not official party policy.

This was seen as forcing the party leader in to sacking frontbenchers[3] and was the first tangible sign of disunity following the euphoria of the election result.

And while he wouldn't want to see Mr Umunna unseated, even Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson regarded that amendment as bad politics.

But some left-wing activists don't need new offences to be taken in to account.

Mass purge?

Some see those MPs who distanced themselves from Jeremy Corbyn as saboteurs of Labour's success.

And they are building a narrative that had they been more loyal - and party officials more ambitious - they could have propelled the party from second to first place at the election.

But don't expect a mass purge of Labour MPs.

Indeed, some Corbyn critics are likely to be offered junior spokespeople roles in the autumn.

But not all of those who are seen as beyond the pale are likely to be unseated.

Mr Corbyn has time and again stressed how much he supports party democracy.

So unless a local party has been - as in Luciana Berger's case - taken over by members and supporters of Momentum (the group set up to keep the spirit of Mr Corbyn's leadership campaigns alive) it would be difficult to dislodge the sitting MP.

'Join the Liberals'

And it should be said, not all local Momentum groups favour de-selecting sitting MPs in any case.

They would point out that they have campaigned for the re-election of MPs who aren't ideological fellow travellers.

Image copyright Labour Party Image caption Ian Lavery has spoken out against de-selection

Momentum nationally weren't chuffed with a Facebook post from the South Tyneside group suggesting MPs such as Chris Leslie and Jess Phillips should "join the Liberals".

Instead of pushing existing personalities out, largely beneath the political radar there are attempts to move Labour more solidly and permanently to the left and to ensure that, when the time comes, Jeremy Corbyn would be able to hand over the leadership to someone who largely shares his political outlook.

So at this year's Labour Party conference, there will be a move to shift the power in future leadership elections from MPs to party members.

This would mean just 5% of MPs - not the 15% of MPs and MEPs at present - would be needed to put a candidate on the ballot.

With a snap election, most anti-Corbyn MPs were returned to Parliament so while a left-wing candidate still might struggle to get 15% support, 5% is considered no barrier.

This move has already been reported extensively.

'Quiet revolution'

Mr Corbyn's internal opponents call it "the McDonnell amendment" - as shadow chancellor John McDonnell is a red rag to any of the party's more moderate bulls.

Groups of what were called Blairites and Brownites - they would call themselves modernisers or moderates - in organisations such as Progress and Labour First have been working hard to secure enough delegates to the annual conference to defeat the leadership changes.

With the deadline for deciding delegates drawing to a close, it's not clear yet who has the upper hand.

But something of a quiet revolution could be under way that would see the power of Jeremy Corbyn, and his supporters, entrenched.

Under Labour's rules, some topics need to be put on the table this year if they are decided next year.

So a slow burning fuse will be lit in the autumn that could blow up in to a more major row in 2018.

There are moves by those on the party's left to make it easier for local parties to oust sitting MPs in future.

Top official

This would involve party branches being encouraged to put forward alternative names for consideration, or for sitting MPs to be required to demonstrate they had 66% support locally to continue.

There will also be a move to increase the number members of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), who are elected not by MPs or the unions, but by the rank-and-file members.

The assumption is that they are more in tune with Mr Corbyn's agenda.

Image caption Iain McNicol (second right) sings The Red Flag at the 2015 Labour conference

The NEC approves party candidates for elections - and a panel of its members chooses by-election candidates.

There was an attempt to disbar the pro-nuclear and anti-Corbyn candidate John Woodcock at an NEC meeting just before the election.

That failed, but if the balance of power on the body were to change, so could the career prospects of the leadership's critics.

And indeed the career prospects of Labour's general secretary Iain McNicol would be called in to question by another proposed change.

There will be an attempt to give members the right to choose the party's top official in future.

Again, this can't be decided until next year but could put Mr McNicol on notice.

Poll lead

He is blamed for trying to deny new (and, it was assumed, more radical) members the right to vote in last year's leadership contest and for not putting enough resources in to Labour/Tory marginals at the general election.

He would contend that the party HQ's strategy of defending vulnerable seats - as well as swiftly moving resources to seats which looked promising as the campaign progressed - was a success.

So by its actions in the coming months, Labour - 8 points ahead in one opinion poll today[4] - could choose to remain a broad church.

Or further expose the fact that many of its MPs and grassroots members aren't really singing from the same hymn sheet....

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