With only a few hours notice hundreds turned up outside Morley leisure centre to hear Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speak on Tuesday. The following day around 150 turned up again at lunchtime in the village of Garforth.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
These rallies formed part of his election campaigning in Leeds where he launched Labour’s education manifesto at Leeds City College. The constituencies both fall in are ones where Labour has won their predecessor seats with Morley and Outwood being one of the most marginal constituencies in the country where Ed Balls narrowly lost the seat to the Tories in 2015.
Corbyn laid bare the dire situation facing working people under the Tories, with parents being asked to contribute towards shortfalls in school budgets, healthworkers forced to care for patients in corridors and over a million workers on zero-hour contracts.
This was contrasted with pledges he has made for a £10 an hour minimum wage, stopping the introduction of so-called ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ (STPs) in the NHS, free school meals for all primary school children and others.
The speeches were summed up by the ‘For the many, not the few’ placards held by many of those gathered to hear Corbyn speak.
That such numbers could gather in a few hours, spread via social media and word of mouth is impressive. In Morley, many workers came straight from work or after picking up children from school, whilst Garforth saw school students from a nearby academy join the rally and other local supporters who happened to have the day off.
This makes a huge contrast to Teresa May’s visits to the city which have been very secretive, including one to a workplace in Harehills after all thehose who worked there had left and a factory where a worker told her he was backing Corbyn’s pledge of a £10 an hour minimum wage.
However, as the rally in York on Wednesday showed, with more notice thousands rather than hundreds will come hoping to hear Corbyn speak. This shows how a bold, anti-austerity and socialist programme could galvanise people across the country with a real alternative to the endless austerity being put forward by the Tories.
The Socialist Party will be continuing to back the socialist policies put forward by Corbyn and campaign to see the defeat of the Tory government in June 8th’s General Election.