Wigan Diggers Festival 2021

Head Office Circular: NP/329/21
3rd September 2021

To: The Secretary


Dear Colleague

Financial support is being sought from the trade union movement for the 2021 Wigan Diggers Festival taking place in September. The festival is to celebrate the Diggers, also known as the “True Levellers” who in the 1600’s advocated common ownership of land and human equality including between men and women.

Whilst the union and wider trade union movement has supported the event in the past as an important historical symbol of labour movement and popular struggle, there has been concerns in recent years that the organisers of the festival are seeking to depoliticise the event, even to the extent of not allowing trade union and socialist speakers. The concerns around the depoliticising of the event are shared by our Wigan Branch and the Wigan Trades Council. This matter has been considered by the NEC who have made the following decision:

“We note the correspondence on file and further note that financial donations are being sought to sponsor the 2021 Wigan Diggers festival.

In view of the event committee’s policy of not allowing political/Trade Union/socialist speeches from the stage then we find this a strange decision, especially during the current climate where we are about to witness the biggest attacks on the labour movement for some considerable time when workers will be made to pay through their pockets for the global health crisis, through attacks on jobs, pensions and pay, terms and conditions. There should be no better platform than a mass gathering of socialists to get the message across to the trade union movement of the attacks coming our way.

We therefore instruct the General Secretary to write to the Wigan Diggers committee advising them of our decision to decline their invitation to donate to this year’s festival but to also make it clear that if there is a future change in policy around allowing political speeches from the stage then we would reconsider our position.

Further, the General Secretary is instructed to place an advert in the Morning Star in the special edition paper which will be covering the event.

The advert should read:

“Solidarity greetings from Britain’s biggest specialist transport union. RMT welcomes the return of the Wigan Diggers festival and welcomes all trade unions and their families. We call for and look forward to a return of Trade Union and socialist speakers to the stage at the 2022 event”.

Branches and Regional Councils to be advised that donations to this event is not a legitimate expenditure of union funds.”

Yours sincerely

Michael Lynch
General Secretary