This year four Branch members attended the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset near Dorchester which is organised by the TUC. The Tolpuddle Martyrs famously founded a Trade Union in 1834 and for doing so were sentenced to transportation to Australia. The result of this barbarism lead to a huge campaign including a demonstration of a 100,000 which took place in Islington, they won a full pardon in 1836.
The festival takes place every year over three days this year it was 19th, 20th and 21st July some of us camped for those days. The festival is predominantly a music festival but there is discussions and speeches as well, Francis O’Grady TUC General Secretary made and excellent speech. I attended and spoke at a discussion on education, pointing out the attack on Teaching Assistants and how we need to unite against that attack by the government in getting rid of qualified Teachers, we should call for “Every class a qualified Teacher, every class a trained Teaching Assistant.”
On the Sunday there was as always a procession with banners (see picture) through the village, to commemorate some of the longer marches of five miles to Dorchester (some people actually do the walk from Dorchester I didn’t maybe next year!). On the procession a branch member Paul Singer who works for Greenwich leisure found us with the Islington Banner and walked with Lynne Moffat and myself who had camped at the site and Fiona Clarke joined us on the Sunday too.
I would recommend the festival especially for members with children as I was told the facilities in the kid’s area was fantastic. Details of next year’s festival will be available here around March next year http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/