JEREMY Corbyn told hundreds of Labour activists that “under Labour, the ‘I, Daniel Blake’ story will be thing of the past,” in a public event attended by Ken Loach this evening, just hours after Labour candidate Andy Burnham was announced as Greater Manchester’s first ever Mayor.
Outside the steps of Manchester Convention Centre, formally GMEX, several hundred Labour supporters gathered to rally behind the party’s embattled leader, despite a poor performance in the nationwide county council elections that took place yesterday.
Though Greater Manchester voted predominantly to elect Burnham as Mayoral, there was not unanimous support for introducing the Mayor to begin with. This was reflected upon by low voter turnouts throughout the area. The lowest of these areas was in Salford, where just over a quarter of the population cast a ballot.
Alongside Mr. Corbyn, Andy Burnham’s campaign manager and MP for Denton and Reddish, Andy Gywn and Labour’s candidate for the seat of Gorton, Afzal Khan both gave speeches.
Mr Gwyn began by proclaiming Labour’s victory in Greater Manchester as “fantastic.”
He went on:
“When we have transformational politics, when we have a vision that speaks to the many and not the few, when we show that Labour values are the values of this country and of this city region, there is a better way to the Tories.”
He urged the public to get behind the Labour party, repeating the ‘many, not the few’ phrase that has become Labour’s slogan.
“Let’s make this pledge. We have five weeks to make this country this work for the many, not the few. We want a health and care system for the many, not the few. We want to make sure that our public services serve the many, not the few,” he said passionately.
He urged attendant Labour activists to “get out and sell Labour’s policies,” and insisted that Labour can win “together.”
Afterwards, Mr. Corbyn spoke, full of enthusiasm and electoral passion.
“We will take the fight to the Tories, where they don’t like it,” he claimed fiercely.
“This is the twenty seventh election event I’ve done since the election was announced; we’ve been in lots of Tory held places,” he told the crowd, to boos.
Full of charisma, he continued jovially:
“They won’t be Tory held forever, don’t worry about that!”
He went on to tell the story of Witney, Oxfordshire. Before yesterday’s elections, the county council seat was held by a Labour majority of just ten.
“There is now a huge majority, because there was a huge swing towards Labour in Oxfordshire,” the Labour leader claimed to massive applause.
Corbyn went on to praise Andy Burnham’s majority as “truly stupendous,” and says “that happens when our party, our movement comes together.”
He did not shy away from the perception Labour had under-performed:
“We’ve had results around the country that have been variable. I understand that, we all understand that. We get that.”
Despite this, he remained positive, congratulating “every Labour candidate for the work they did yesterday and in the run up to the election. He especially praised “those that gained seats in often very unlikely circumstances,” and urged the crowd not to “let the media write the story.”
He derided the Conservative Pary’s plan for Britain, stating:
“What they are offering is a tax write off for corporations and the wealthiest in our society
“They are offering us underfunded schools, where they are expected to have collections at the gates to pay the teachers and assistants,” he went on, to cries of ‘shame’ from the crowd.
“They’re underfunding our housing service and so there is growing homelessness around the country
“I congratulate Andy on putting an end to street homelessness in his manifesto – and I know he will deliver on that!”
He promised free school meals to rapturous applause from the assembled crowd, declaring the current state of affairs “poverty Britain, created and maintained by the Tories – and before them, the coalition, which included the Liberal Democrats,” he reminded the crowd.
He decried spending on selective education, saying that his party believes in “equality for all children.”
Other policies mentioned included investment in the NHS, ending Zero Hours Contracts and the introduction of a £10PH living wage, which he said was “not anti-business, it’s about a society that works for all.”
He also promised “roses instead of bread,” stating that his government would give “every child the opportunity to learn a musical instrument” and promised that the “I, Daniel Blake story will be a thing of the past – I will lead a government that treats everyone with respect.”
He finished his speech to applause, claiming that “Andy, Afzal and I – we can’t do it on our own. Manchester has meant so much to the Labour movement, let’s take that lesson to the whole country!”