Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn held one of his largest rallies of the general election campaign so far today, Saturday.
Thousands of people packed into Birmingham’s ICC concert venue to see Corbyn—and hundreds more were turned away at the door because they couldn’t get in.
As the queue to get in stretched out of the door and down the street, Labour supporters told Socialist Worker why they were excited by Corbyn’s campaign.
Lewis, a school music technician, said, “Corbyn stands for all the right things. “You can see how many people have come to see him today. I doubt you'd see as many people here to listen to Theresa May.
“It's time we had someone who stands for people like me who work in schools—and my parents, who are full time carers,” he added.
“There are £250,000 worth of cuts at my school. Eventually it gets to the point when there are no easy parts to cut.
“We're not replacing teachers at my school when they retire or move on. Class sizes are swelling. That has a knock on effect for society as a whole.”
Caroline Frewin, another Labour supporter, said she had been convinced to vote Labour because of Corbyn’s leadership.
“This is the first time in a long time we've got a Labour leader in touch with what ordinary people are thinking. If he gets in it will transform the way things are done.”
Inside, Corbyn’s speech reflected the hope for a better society many Labour supporters see in the chance to elect a Labour government.
“Labour’s approach is based on hope,” he said. “We say that if we all stand together we can build a fairer country.
“We do have the wealth in this country to create that society if we choose to do it.”
He said, “The dividing lines in this election have gotten very clear and very sharp.
“When the Tories offer tax cuts to their rich friends, we say let’s make life liveable for the many first.
“When the Tories want to balance the books on the backs of the vulnerable, we say let’s tell the wealthy and big corporations to start paying the tax they owe.”
He attacked the Tory manifesto as an attack on young and older people.
“When the Tories offer tax cuts to their rich friends, we say let’s make life liveable for the many.
Corbyn slammed the Tories’ “triple whammy” on older people. He attacked the changes to social care funding as a “compassion tax,” as well as plans to means test the winter fuel allowance and end the state pension triple lock.
And he contrasted the Tories’ plan to end free school meals for infants with his own promise to give free school meals to all primary school children.
Most Corbyn supporters know that it will still be a huge challenge to beat the Tories at the general election on 8 June.
Labour councillor James told Socialist Worker, “It's going to be hard to pull the election from the Tories. It's not insurmountable though.
“The Tories were disparaging about the last Labour manifesto, now they're taking up the rhetoric from this one.”
Viv added, “Corbyn’s up against it. The media are ensuring they seek out the anti-Corbyn voices. But his chances are improving.
“If I was a Tory voter I’d be looking at the protests against Theresa May and be concerned”.
Many of those in Birmingham saw rallies like today’s as the best way to win.
Karl, who came with his two children said, “He needs to keep on what he's doing, holding rallies and speaking to people. Theresa May is doing the opposite and people are getting fed up with it.”
Caroline agreed. “Corbyn needs to keep doing the rallies—the more people hear him speak the better. He's changing people's minds about politics.”
Sabotage and pressure from the right
The Labour right continue to undermine a radical campaign—and push Jeremy Corbyn to compromise.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said yesterday that she was “sceptical” about the Trident nuclear missile programme and it could be subject to a review if Labour wins the election.
This was immediately rejected by shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith who said the party was "fully committed" to having a nuclear deterrent and that Thornberry was wrong.
Speaking to reporters after the rally in Birmingham, Corbyn said: "The manifesto makes it very clear that the Labour Party has come to a decision and is committed to Trident.”