Chants and cheers reached fever pitch as Jeremy Corbyn addressed crowds in Bristol for the first time since a huge sway of support saw the city turn red.
Just back from holiday and on fine form, the Labour leader hit the campaign trail at BAWA Leisure Centre in Southmead Road on Friday. He was jubilant and raring to fight another election – just two months after June 8 saw his party miss out on victory, but significantly increase its share of the vote.
“All the doom and gloom people were saying Theresa May would have a walk in the park,” he said, to rapturous applause as he spoke of his pride at leading a Labour party that has the highest membership of his lifetime.
Corbyn mocked the prime minister’s minority Government and tauntingly suggested Theresa May might want to take a walk in the park and have another epiphany to decide to take the country to the polls again.
The NHS, education and transport links were naturally high on the agenda for the politician, who has gained something of a rock star status among the loyal following of supporters who punctuated his speech with spontaneous cheering.
“Our NHS is of course under threat from under-funding, privatisation and the internal market,” rallied Corbyn, pledging to lift the public sector pay cap and ensure mental health services receive proper funding.
He told Bristol24/7 that he will be standing with Mayor Marvin Rees and other core city leaders who plan to take the fight against austerity to Westminster on September 12.
“I had a discussion with Marvin about the funding problems and about his ambitions and plans to work with the core city group and mayors across Britain and yes, of course I will be supporting them.”
He also backed the Bristol Labour councillors who have spoken out against proposed changes to the NHS that include new restrictions on breast cancer reconstructive surgery, arguing that “of course they will hit women hardest”.
The opposition leader said the Grenfell Tower fire disaster should be a wake up call and argued it’s time to end the inequality in society and put a stop to the current “postcode lottery” that sees some children given the education and tools to succeed while others are not.
“We do not walk away from the basic principles of our party and that is fairness, justice and decency in society,” Corbyn continued.
“I was delighted with the campaign we mounted for the general election and that sense of strength.”
He called on the assembled supporters and people from all walks of life to spend time campaigning together and keep growing that strength from the streets up.
A woman known simply as Brenda from Bristol made national headlines with the incredulous reaction of ‘You’re joking? Not another one” when news of the last General Election broke. Who knows what she’ll have to say if Corbyn has his wish, but he has made it clear – he is ready to hit the campaign trail again.
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