Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says Burston Strike Rally teaches lessons of “determination and courage”
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell appeared as a speaker and took part in the march at the Burston Strike Rally on Sunday.
The day commemorated the longest-running strike in history, where children walked out in support of sacked teachers Tom and Kitty Hidgon, after the pair were dismissed due to their association with the Agricultural Workers’ Union in 1914.
Speaking to the Diss Express, Mr McDonnell said: “This is one of the great events in the social calender of the Labour and trade union movement and it stands alongside May Day, Durham Miners, and Women’s chainmakers dispute, in being a fixed item for people coming together.
“The reason it is a fix is because everything that happened here happened on the principles of the trade union movement, which are determination, courage and solidarity.
“We are celebrating the determination and courage of the Higdons, the Potters, and the pupils. People learn lessons from the solidarity they showed and one of those lessons is that if people stand together, no matter how long it takes, they will win and be victorious.
“A lot of young people have been learning that lesson, such as the BA cabin crew dispute, the McDonald’s strike taking place, and Bank of England dispute - where people have looked back in history and saw how having courage and determination can actually ensure that they can be recognised as a trade union, get decent wages and conditions, and be treated with respect by management.”
There has been a remarkable change in politics over the last couple of years since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader
Mr McDonnell took office as Shadow Chancellor in September 2015 under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn – who made an appearance at last year’s rally.
When asked about the direction that modern politics is taking, Mr McDonnell said: “There has been a remarkable change in politics over the last couple of years since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader.
“He has given people hope, lifting spirits and morale and I think we are so much stronger than before. The Labour Party has nearly 600,000 members now, seeing more and more young people coming to the Labour and trade union movement that we have not had for a generation.”
Other speakers at Sunday’s rally were Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, Megan Dobney, TUC regional secretary, John Hendy QC, and Christine Blower, Workplace 2020.