From Georgie Harrison at the #JCLiveLaunch
On Saturday July 23, 2016, I travelled up to Salford to witness the launch of Jeremy Corbyn’s new leadership campaign.
I made this special effort because I believe that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, both within the Parliamentary Labour party, the Labour Party and the wider community, are essential to heal our broken nation and to revolutionise politics and the “system”; I also felt it necessary to be amongst like-minded comrades after a week in which Owen Smith, 'the contender', and his supporters have attempted to discredit our leader in a patronising and dishonest manner.
I have jotted down a flavour of each individual speech but my notes were not complete as I spent most of my time literally applauding their efforts.
Paula Barker, an excellent speaker in her own right as well as being Unison Branch Secretary for Halton, introduced the outstanding line-up of speakers and initiated proceedings by declaring that this is a new era in our country’s politics and Corbyn is the catalyst for change.
Each speaker declared their support for Jeremy Corbyn and endorsed his exceptional leadership skills as well as detailing his myriad of achievements within his term as leader thus far.
Claudia Webb, an excellent, Corbyn- friendly candidate for the Labour Party’s NEC gave a rousing speech.
She reminded us Corbyn needs a strong team supporting him so that he can unite the party in order for us to fight this oppressive Tory government. She added that we started a political revolution last year when we first elected Corbyn.
We won’t be deceived by campaigns maligning him because we already know Corbyn’s character; he stands with us and truly represents us. She detailed all the successes the Labour Party has achieved under Corbyn, including an explosion of membership, positive local election, by-election and Mayoral results, re-affiliation of the Fire Brigade Union and forcing the government to make U-turns on policy such as the tax credit cuts.
Corbyn continues to work tirelessly to support us and fight the government rather than his colleagues, despite their best efforts to derail him.
Sam Wheeler, author of the Northern Futures Document for Corbyn’s leadership campaign and a representative on Unite’s Regional Young Workers Committee, asked the press to note that the 2000 strong audience were normal, decent, people who are fully supportive of Corbyn.
He also spoke of the incredible political shift and reminded us that, in recent history, prior to Corbyn, we were peddling policies that were a pale imitation of Tory unpleasantness but under Corbyn we have a new way of doing politics which will appeal to the wider public just as much as it does to Corbyn supporters.
He spoke of membership being the life blood and quoted Marx “The point of politics is to change the world”.
Under Corbyn, I truly believe we will start using politics for its intended purpose once more!
Yasmin Toor spoke of her struggles to become a councilor due to her background.
She has achieved so much by entering office as Oldham’s first female, Asian Muslim councillor.
She had always wanted to be a “voice for the voiceless people” and in 2010 the people of Oldham joined together for positive change and elected her to their council.
She drew parallels with the situation we find ourselves in with respect to the Labour Party leadership election; we all want positive change, we need to keep the faith and join together to elect Corbyn into his rightful position as leader then move on to campaign for him to become the Prime Minister.
Yasmin reminded us that Jeremy is always prepared to listen to all and is willing to give people the opportunity to join in his decision making. These are signs of great leadership which challenges the fallacies purported by the media. We need to engage with people who accept media bias and demonstrate that Jeremy can be our voice and the “voice of the voiceless” and there is no better leader than him.
Richard Burgon is now our Shadow Justice Minister and gave a passionate and erudite speech in which he demonstrated his unwavering support for Corbyn.
Richard reminded us of Corbyn’s consistency and how his first impression of the LP’s leader, at the 2003 demonstration against the invasion of Iraq, impacted positively and had a profound influence on him. He thanked all Corbyn supporters and declared that we are making history; he cited the similarities with 1984-85 miners’ strike and current events.
In both cases the media and establishment attempted/ are attempting to demonize ordinary, decent people for standing together for justice and equality.
He agreed that MPs should not be subject to abuse but added that ordinary LP members and Corbyn supporters should be respected too. He touched on the fact that the LP lost Scotland in the 2015 General election, lost two general elections and millions of voters. This evidence alone would suggest that radical change within the LP is essential; let us be clear - these losses occurred before Corbyn became leader.
Richard quoted Martin Luther King “the silence of your friends” – people looked to the LP to support them but at that time the LP was “silent”. Is it any wonder a resounding Brexit vote hit our nation in June?
Under Corbyn politics is changing, the LP is working and winning – the local elections and government U-turns are testimony to this; we are the first to have a majority of female participants in the Shadow Cabinet and Northern interests are actually being represented now.
Richard listed positive attributes of a leader which included being a persuader and somebody prepared to challenge the status quo and it became apparent that Corbyn is the only suitable candidate for leadership of the LP.
With Jeremy Corbyn as Leader and John McDonnell in close range we can rebuild our nation and improve society just as our illustrious leaders did in previous times.
Rebecca Long Bailey warned us not to be misled by the Prime Minister’s speech; Theresa May is pro austerity and this government will destroy everything that our ancestors fought for and our children will have to fight all over again.
She added that local services are on the brink of collapse and it’s the most vulnerable that will suffer.
Becky recognised that people, especially those local to Salford, have suffered decades of industrial decline, underfunding in schools and hospitals and have demonstrated their discontent by voting Brexit. They wanted someone to blame and, assisted by misinformation by the media, chose immigrants.
Becky spoke about local poverty and how it is reminiscent of the Lowry’s [the artist] era. He worked locally as a rent collector in the last century and depicted the misery he encountered on canvas.
[The event was held at the Lyric Theatre at The Lowry Arts Centre in Salford]
Becky reminded us that present circumstances have their roots in Thatcher’s “idealism” and “works” from 1979 onwards where the heart and soul were ripped out of the manufacturing industry and whole communities were destroyed.
She went on to say that subsequent governments did little to effect positive change; indeed, the previous Labour governments embraced Thatcher’s economics.
This background influenced Becky to become an MP in 2015 and she described Corbyn and McDonnell as “two men so decent and kind that they embody the selfless profession that politics should be”. Her opinion resonates very strongly with my own and it appears to me that Owen Smith and his supporters have substituted the word “selfish” for selfless.
Jeremy Corbyn was welcomed with a standing ovation before he uttered a single word. He thanked us all for supporting him and requested that we reflect on the terrible events in Munich on Friday afternoon.
He reminded us how that city had warmly welcomed refugees into their community, leading by example.
Corbyn noted that the press had not covered the fact that Labour candidate Penny Newman has unseated a UKIP councilor in Thanet and that the LP have had several other small victories very recently; he recognized the huge task ahead but took comfort from these successes, along with those mentioned by earlier speakers Corbyn went on to say that these results signify that his leadership campaign is important and that we are all leaders, active within our communities and are all messengers to convey ideas amongst our communities in order to shape the society we all want.
The press has subsequently poured scorn on his comments; however, they are at risk of following the poor example led by sections of the LP opposed to Corbyn, if they ignore even the smallest of election results.
He sternly warned us that we need to be very disciplined and reiterated that he doesn’t do personal abuse, doesn’t respond to it and will not lower himself to that base level and we should behave accordingly adding "I know people are angry about actions that have been taken but where we have disagreement in our party we settle it through democratic means - no coups, no intimidation, no abuse."
Later on, Owen Smith told a radio 4 interviewer that Corbyn was “having a dig” at him when he addressed us as such.
I dispute Smith’s comments and suggest that he was attempting to undermine Corbyn’s hugely successful leadership launch.
Corbyn reminded us that the government have been forced to retreat on tax credit cuts, PIP and forcing every school to become an academy. He added that we learned from this that we have the power to change things when we stand, united and that we have the power to do things differently.
Corbyn spoke of the plight of the homeless being forced to beg on our streets just so that they can pay for shelter for the night. He added that humanity reaches out and those that are comfortable need to help those in need. He also said that thisneeds to be translated into the political arena in order to impact positively on all.
He reminded us that, although the Prime Minister expressed concern about the state of society, she neglected to remind us that she has been a strong proponent of austerity measures and has been presiding over them.
Corbyn alerted us to the higher education bill and stated that we will thwart May’s efforts. He also said it’s not just the individual but the whole of society who benefit from those who successfully undertake higher education studies.
Corbyn reminded us that the NHS continues to be under threat but his shadow secretary of state for health, Diane Abbot, is up for the challenge; we need a properly funded NHS with no health inequalities and the NHS workers must receive a proper wage.
He finished by listing the 5 great ills of our society: -
If you would like to assist in eradicating these ills, I urge you to support Corbyn to become a “voice for the voiceless”.
Corbyn received rapturous applause and yet another standing ovation and those of us present felt boosted and ready for the fight ahead.
Iamges from the live launch at the Lowery Salford thanks to
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