Socialist Worker

Big Labour rallies show enthusiasm for Corbyn

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2683

Jeremy Corbyn greets supporters in Calder Valley, Yorkshire, last weekend

Jeremy Corbyn greets supporters in Calder Valley, Yorkshire, last weekend (Pic: Neil Terry)


All aboard the Corbyn train—choo choo! As the Labour Party announced on Monday it would slash rail fares in government, Jeremy Corbyn supporters celebrated big turnouts at his rallies across Yorkshire.

The Labour leader spoke to up to 1,000 people at a rally in Leeds last Saturday night.

It had a slight flavour of the mass events that were the hallmark of his leadership and general election campaigns of 2015, 2016 and 2017.

They showed the huge enthusiasm for Corbyn—and the prospect for change that he represents—among Labour members and supporters.

Reports say “hundreds” of people queued outside Leeds Beckett University Students’ Union to get inside—and waited for two hours after the rally began to hear Corbyn speak.

He was greeted with the ritual chant of, “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”—and spoke of some of the promises that have inspired people to campaign for Labour.

Corbyn said Labour’s pledges should cut across the Leave-Remain divide that other parties want to exploit in what they hope will be a Brexit general election.

Corbyn with UCU strikers in central London on Tuesday

Corbyn with UCU strikers in central London on Tuesday (Pic: Irang Bak)


“I recognise all the divisions that happened in 2016 in the referendum,” said Corbyn. “I understand all that.

“But I also understand that if you’re living in Leeds in a private rented flat and you’re on Universal Credit and a zero hours contract job, you have a difficult life and you may well have voted Leave.

“If you’re living in north London in exactly the same conditions and you voted Remain, you’ve got exactly the same problems. Don’t divide us.”

Traffic

Hundreds of people also joined a rally for Corbyn in York on Sunday—though Corbyn wasn’t there as he was stuck in traffic.

The event was also filmed for Labour’s final election broadcast.

Activists gathered in the city’s St Helen’s Square, then filmed walking slowly walking to Blake Street where Corbyn would have addressed them.

The York Press reports that “organisers asked them not to display their banners until they arrived in the square”.

And Corbyn spoke to Labour canvassers in Whitby, also on Sunday.

He was photographed eating chips and wearing a suit embroidered with pinstripes reading, “For the many not the few.”

There is just over a week to go before the election and the Tories’ poll lead is appearing to narrow.

One Survation poll published on Monday showed the Tory lead over Labour cut to nine points—the first time it had dropped to single figures.

There’s much more that Corbyn could do.

The rallies in Yorkshire are just a glimpse of what’s possible.

They could be much bigger than the canvassing events and photo opportunities that they have been so far.

Events on the scale of the 2017 election campaign—and much bigger—could transform the terrain of the election.

And they could create the sense of insurgency that the Labour Party needs.


Kick racism out of the election

Around 1,000 people joined the St Andrew’s Day march against racism in Glasgow last Saturday.

The annual march is organised by the Scottish TUC union federation.

It came on the same day as Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) held a national day of action against Boris Johnson and racism in the election.

Supporters from local groups in towns and cities across Britain staged stunts and stalls.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott sent a message to the local event in Hackney, east London.

SUTR plans to send a battle bus to Johnson’s marginal constituency of Uxbridge in west London on Saturday.

The bus will also roll in to North Kensington, a Labour held marginal that includes the site of Grenfell Tower.

A statement from the group said, “We will be heading to these areas to spread an anti-racist message, encouraging everyone to use their vote against racism.

“We want to reject the intensification of the ‘hostile environment’, the institutionalised racism and failure of Tories over the Grenfell tragedy, and to oppose Islamophobia, antisemitism and all forms of racism.”


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