WIGAN DIGGERS FESTIVAL #9

Had a truly incredible day at Wigan Diggers Festival yesterday. After a week of the worst of this country I saw the best, and it fully recharged my batteries for the struggles ahead. Great spirit, great people and great performances. What more can you ask?

There were fantastic sets, with Attila The Stockbroker, Darren Poyzer and Jess Silk being personal highlights, but headliners The Men They Couldn’t Hang put in one of the best shifts of their 35 year career last night and just blew us all away. I’m slightly biased as a teenage dream came true when I was invited on stage to sing ‘Ghosts Of Cable Street’, one of the most important songs in my life, and one I consider among the best ever written. What a moment. Truly unforgettable.

There were others too. I was officially there on ceremonial duties to hand my We Shall Overcome Big Sis, Pauline Town, this year’s Gerrard Winstanley Gold Spade Award for outstanding contribution to Socialism. A lot of famous names have won this accolade, but there can be no-one more deserving of it than this incredible warrior for the downtrodden and the dispossessed. To get the square singing ‘One Life At A Time’ and to hand it over was very special indeed.

A festival is made by an awful lot of hard work behind the scenes, and I want to pay tribute to the committee who set the tone every year with their kindness, their selflessness, their hospitality and their solidarity. When you are welcomed and looked after as a performer you take the stage with a skip in your step; when you are welcomed, respected and valued as an audience you generate a spirit in the crowd that artists tap into. It becomes a two way street and the atmosphere slowly builds through the day. It takes a great band, like The Men They Couldn’t Hang to then make the kind of magic we witnessed last night, but it exists in the first place thanks to the year-long hard graft of the Diggers Committee and the sound and lighting staff who make the whole thing tick. Respect comrades ✊

Right. Stockton today. Best get ready.

La lucha continua.

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