A great wave of hope swept through people at Jeremy Corbyn’s final election rally on Wednesday night.
Held in Hackney, east London, it marked the close of a campaign that has seen tens of thousands of people working for an end to Tory rule and for real change.
People queued patiently for over an hour in cold conditions to see and hear Corbyn and other leading figures such as Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler.
There were hundreds in the rally hall, many more in another room or on the street outside—thousands all together.
Labour member Helena told Socialist Worker, “I am exhilarated by the thought of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
“I want to see an end to the cruel policies of the Tories. I know it won’t be everything if we get in, but it will offer the chance for change.”
Alan said, “I have been working to win votes for Labour in the Chingford constituency held by Iain Duncan Smith, the butcher of welfare. It has been tough but I think we are quite close to a famous victory.”
But there was also an undercurrent of fear in the hall. Ahmed said, “I have been campaigning intensively for over a month for Labour. I took a week off work to make sure I could put in enough time in some marginal seats.
“It’s terrifying to think that Boris Johnson could win. I couldn’t face it—and more crucially millions of people across Britain couldn’t face it.”
Corbyn told the crowd. “We’re literally at a fork in the road. So when the election comes tomorrow it is a very clear choice. You go down the road of Boris Johnson, a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump, we break off any serious relationship with Europe.
“Or you go down the Labour way, which is the adult, responsible way, of negotiating a settlement which we will all live by, and I will make sure is carried out in a future relationship with Europe.
“But we also go down the road of investing in our country, investing to end austerity and redistributing wealth and power in our society in a way that’s never been seen before.”
It was the message about redistribution that fired up the audience.
Corbyn warned of negotiations to sell off the NHS in post-Brexit trade talks, saying, “That is what Boris Johnson would continue doing if elected again, destroying our public services on the altar of a global free market dominated by a small number of multinational companies.”
Earlier in Middlesbrough Corbyn mocked Johnson, who had entered a fridge while being pursued by a reporter.
“I’ve not come here to deliver milk, or to hide in a fridge,” Corbyn said. “I’ve come here with a message of hope.”
Unsurprisingly Corbyn’s London rally showcased the unity of Labour. But there are tensions just beneath the surface.
The evening was introduced by local Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. She is a regular critic of Corbyn and her election leaflet doesn’t mention him. Her first pledge to electors is to “campaign to remain in the EU”.
Everyone should vote Labour and argue with others to do the same. But there are many future battles to come, whatever the result.
Alison McGarry, the chair of Islington North Labour Party, was right to tell the rally, “We have to continue to build our social movement to implement our policies and to change this rotten system and this rotten society.”
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