By Alex Stuart, Surrey Labour Students chair
On 31 May, Jeremy Corbyn addressed a rally of over a thousand people in Reading in support of the two Labour candidates in the town. The South East of England is not a traditional Labour heartland, but the rally showed that Corbyn is still enthusing young people and families
Unfortunately, there was little evidence of local party mobilisation – there was one woman with a clipboard desperately looking for volunteers for polling day. Evidently this was a gathering of people from all around the area to see Corbyn.
The crowd was lively and staff tried their best to enthuse the crowd with loud music and tempters (“He’ll be here in five minutes!”). Corbyn was greeted with the usual rapturous applause when he was introduced by Reading East candidate Matt Rodda (pictured left).
Corbyn spoke for around thirty minutes, giving a whistle-stop tour of the manifesto. Highlights of his speech were: –
- The announcement of a Pupil Arts Premium so that every child can learn a musical instrument.
- Pledging 30 hours of free childcare a week, which would cost £4.8 billion. This was greeted with relief as Corbyn could not give an answer in an interview the day before.
- Encouraging activists to “have the conversation” on the doorstep. This was heartening and in contrast to some dyed-in-the-wool members, who believe campaigning is just about getting the Voter ID.
The rally really enthused the crowd. In both Reading seats, the Conservatives hold a 7,000 majority. If this changes on 8 June, the signs look good for a Labour government!
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