Digging for democracy

Wigan’s free Diggers festival was a big success. Over the day and evening on Saturday, several thousand people gathered around stalls and stages on the grassy slopes of the Wiend, overseen by sculptor Rick Kirkby’s imposing Face of Wigan.

There was plenty of political food for thought, especially for those who took part in discussions around the stalls and talks about the contemporary legacy, not only of the Diggers but their fellow revolutionaries, the Levellers who put forward the Agreement of the People.

It was the third such event held to celebrate the contribution made by 17th century thinker and struggler Gerrald Winstanley, who was born and baptised in the parish of Wigan in 1609.

"Propriety and single interest divides the people of a land and the whole world into parties and is the cause of all wars and bloodshed and contention everywhere"

Gerrard Winstanley & 14 others The True Levellers Standard Advanced - April, 1649

Winstanley and his followers believed that “the Earth was made a common treasury for all, irrespective of person”, the words pronounced by actor John Graham Davies in a recreation of what the movement stood for.

Stalls, performers and speakers included the Liverpool Socialist Singers, the Diggers Puppet Show, historian John Gurney, the Bakers Union, the anti-fracking movement, Wigan Bookcycle, the Agreement of the People for the 21st Century and A World to Win.

It was the first outing for the Agreement of the People’s new banner, and many people signed their support for the campaign for a new constitution for the 21st century.

9 September 2013

Wigan Diggers

Wigan Diggers Diggers

Diggers Wigan Diggers
L: John Graham Davies as Winstanley speaks his famous words about the world being a “Common Treasury” || R: Re-enactment of St George's Hill Digging... in Wigan, at the Festival (Steven Hall right)

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