In a show of the potential behind Jeremy Corbyn’s general election campaign, thousands of people turned out for a rally in Bristol on Monday afternoon.
The outdoor rally was the biggest so far of the campaign—and was reminiscent of the events behind the success of Labour’s 2017 election bid.
Reports say there were huge cheers and chanting as Corbyn launched a broadside against years of austerity and Tory rule.
“Nine years in with four million children living in poverty, nine years of local government and services being cut to the bone and this Christmas 130,000 children across Britain will wake up not knowing if they have a safe and secure home,” Corbyn said.
“We need to get rid of the government that has brought austerity about.”
He added, “Our young people have been so grievously treated.
“I want schools properly funded, and to give young people a choice over university or apprenticeships but not a choice of how much debt they will go into.”
Corbyn also showed the crowd the photograph of Jack Williment-Barr, the four year old child forced to sleep on a Leeds hospital floor.
“The Tories have had nine years to fund our NHS properly,” he said.
“It is time to bring their regime to an end and elect a Labour government that is determined to fund our NHS properly.
“But there is another threat to the NHS. That is the secret talks that have gone on for two years between the Tory government and the United States administration.”
The rally attracted sneering from the usual suspects. Right wing rag the Daily Mail said Corbyn “desperately tried to repeat his 2017 general election surge”.
One article in the Guardian newspaper agreed. It claimed that instead of “energy and enthusiasm” there was “weariness, a weight of resignation”.
“People just weren’t feeling it in the way they once had,” it claimed.
The Guardian article—headlined, “No one’s dancing”—was contradicted by a report from local news website Bristol Live.
It described “a really joyful atmosphere with people in the crowd having a little dance”.
“It was hard to hear Mr Corbyn at times, amid the cheers,” the report said. “The crowd seem thrilled with getting to see him and there are cheers all along the line of onlookers as he makes his way back to his car.”
Other media commentators questioned why Corbyn would hold a rally in a safe Labour seat—a repeat of criticisms proved wrong in 2017.
Then, the rallies created a sense of a campaign that was about to break through and cause an upset—catching a mood that politicians and commentators had missed.
They helped Labour defy polls that predicted a landslide defeat.
Corbyn looked set to hold more rallies in the final two days before the election—a welcome return to the missing element in Labour’s campaign.
Dreaming of a red Christmas in Nelson
Some 500 people welcomed Jeremy Corbyn to Nelson in Lancashire when he visited on Tuesday morning.
Local media reported, “They sang ‘I’m dreaming of a red Christmas’ as they eagerly wait for the arrival of Corbyn”.
Speaking to the crowd, Corbyn held up a copy of the Bolton News.
It had a report of the “black alert” declared at the Royal Bolton hospital as staff tried to deal with hundreds of patients and a severe lack of beds.
The paper reported that Tasha Allred visited the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department on Sunday to be treated for a chronic condition. She said she arrived at 8pm and waited until midnight.
“I lay on the floor at Bolton Hospital A&E last night,” she said.
“Hundreds of people were sat or lay on floors as the place was packed out. I have chronic illnesses so have to attend quite often. I’ve seen it busy but last night was the worst ever.
“I saw triage after three hours on the floor to be told it would be another ten hours to see a doctor and then there would be no beds.
“I had to discharge even though I was really poorly.”
Corbyn said that Labour’s manifesto was “bold, ambitious and will be delivered”. He promised extra funds for the NHS and NHS staff.
Corbyn had begun the day in Blackrod in Bolton. Fred, a Socialist Workers Party member, said, “About a hundred people gathered to see him in the dark and the freezing cold.
“There were people of all age ranges, and all looking so full of hope and expectation.
“People wouldn’t come out for Boris Johnson like that—unless they wanted a chance to throw things at him.”