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21 July 2016
Mood at Tolpuddle to defeat the Blairites
Robin Clapp, South West region Socialist Party secretary
This year's Tolpuddle Martyrs rally was the largest since 1984 when Tony Benn and Arthur Scargill led the procession through the otherwise sleepy Dorset hamlet at the height of the great mineworkers' strike.
As the cradle of trade unionism in Britain, the Martyrs represent the heroic struggles of workers to fight for the right to organise and to engage in effective industrial action, rights that have been severely eroded in the last 30 years. Trade unionists now face huge additional legal impediments through the inflicting of the 2016 Trade Union Act.
It was heartening therefore to hear Jeremy Corbyn denounce the Act and condemn successive Tory governments for imposing the most draconian anti-trade union laws in the developed world.
His vision of a world in which 21st century technologies could be made to work for the benefit of humankind and his denunciation of inequality in the workplace and in wider society were warmly received by a largely supportive audience.
Blairites on the contrary kept their heads down and those Labour MPs across the South West who have spent the last month attacking Jeremy Corbyn instead of the new Trade Union Act and all the other blows raining down on us, were absent from the event, having been made aware that their presence would be unwelcome.
In his contribution, Jeremy unfortunately did not refer in any detail to the current leadership contest and the mechanics of what the left needs to do to defeat the coup. This however was the subject on the lips of many people who took our leaflets afterwards and who indicated a willingness to fight to the end to secure a Corbyn-led government.
One of the biggest cheers of the day came when actress Maxine Peake spoke of him as being our next prime minister.
Support for the Socialist Party's arguments was indicated by a record sale of 247 copies of the Socialist throughout the weekend and over £200 raised in donations to our party's Fighting Fund.
'Join' cards were taken from us to fill out and hundreds signed our petition and bought our 'Defeat the Blairites - support Jeremy Corbyn' socialist party badges.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 21 July 2016 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.
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