Yesterday hundreds of supporters gathered at the Level to hear Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn set out his pitch for a more equal Britain. He outlined his commitment to end austerity, save the NHS, protect refugees and homeless people and bring the railways, water industry and post office back under public control.
But Shadow Chancellor John Mc Donnell opened the rally saying Labour was about hope not fear which appealed to 65% of young people at the last election.
He said Labour offers: “Decent education, education is a gift from one generation to another, not a commodity to be sold off.” He said the Labour Party will scrap tuition fees if they win the next election.
He also said every Tory government tries to get rid of the NHS.
Second to take to the podium was Amal Bidair, a young, Muslim activist originally from Eritrea who was involved in helping people after the fire at Grenfell Tower.
She also campaigns about Police stop and search which unfairly targets BAME people, Islamaphobia and she supports Mr Corbyn’s stance on recognising the state of Palestine. She said Labour made their politics legitimate.
Later Martha Osamore, mother of Kate Osamore who is in Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, explained that she came from Nigeria to London in 1963.
In his keynote address, Mr Corbyn said that although Mrs Osamore had many personal problems, she never asked for anything for herself, she talked about her neighbours and community facing racism from the National Front.
Mr Corbyn said: “So many people came together, young and old, black and white.” He said they were stronger for being together.
Mr Corbyn praised the organisers of the Club of Sanctuary for refugees (also known as Brighton Table Tennis Club.) He said the club gives sanctuary, hope and unity to refugees, people with learning difficulties and travellers.
“One fundamental thing is the inequality within our society. The rich majority live at the expense of the poor,” said Mr Corbyn. He criticised the Conservatives because their priority is to stay in office and he ridiculed Prime Minister Theresa May’s “strong and stable” government.
He said the Conservatives will: “Turn this country into an offshore tax haven on the shores of Europe” and he guaranteed to protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.
Mr Corbyn reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to an NHS free at the point of need which he described as a basic human right and he criticised the Conservatives for selling off land and services and then taking the profits offshore.
When talking about homeless people in many of Britain’s cities, he said: “They are not the cause of this housing problem, they are the symptom.” He said he was determined to help and to fight for them by building one million more homes and to lobby for proper regulation of the private rented sector.
Returning to foreign policy, he said: “Refugees have human rights. Victims of war have to be supported and wars of the future must be prevented.”
Lucy Anderson-Jones is a lifelong Labour supporter. She said: “I just vote Labour because it is the only way to destroy austerity and support people.
“I don’t want the NHS sold off. My husband had a liver transplant last year. I am part of an American forum where people are dying because they can’t afford the treatment or the transplant. We are not even watching the NHS quietly being sold off.”
She said Tony Blair didn’t listen to people: “It’s easy to encourage people to be generous, he (Mr Blair) was always keen to steal votes from the Conservatives.” On Friday a charity shop gave her a blanket for the homeless person sitting outside.
Four students from Sussex University explained why they voted Labour. Serena Vaughan who is studying politics, said: “Jeremy Corbyn knows how to access particular (groups of) people.
“The Tories have no policies for young people. Jeremy Corbyn is the first politician that has identified with young people. I shunned politics until I found a politician that is interested.
Helena Bow-Ader said her family were Labour supporters but it was when she went to University and got the right to vote that she began to take a real interest in politics. She said: “Jeremy Corbyn is so focused on students, he has completely swung me.”
Molly Dawson felt it is important to take an interest. She has always been Labour but joined the party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn before his first leadership election.
Scarlett Walker comes from Worcestershire which is a very conservative area. She has taken a particular interest in politics since she was 16-17. She likes Labour and the Greens.
A head teacher from Brighton and Hove who does not want to be named has always voted Labour but is not a confirmed supporter of Mr Corbyn. He said: “I haven’t always tuned into his message without anything else in the way.”
His wife voted Green because she lives in Pavilion constituency. She said: “I am here to see if it (the rally) will change my mind.”
This article was also published in Brighton and Hove News.