An Election Rally in Hull 22 May 2017

What a difference a year makes. Compared to Jeremy Corbyn’s rally speech here a year ago, his voice was firm and content structured not rambling. But the same principles, courtesy and generosity of spirit were there, evoking the same huge enthusiasm from a packed crowd.

He spoke about older people, young people, school music, university tuition fees, headteachers’ agonizing budget decisions, nurses, porters and doctors in the NHS, and was touching about rough sleepers. If you talk to them you hear their back story and why they’re homeless he said; maybe mental illness, many reasons why stuff went wrong; they’re a symptom not cause of problems; shameful that our rich country has so many on the streets.

Warm ups before his speech made his points. Two poems from men on Hull’s poorest estates: the creativity in everyone – he was here to launch Labour’s cultural manifesto; and young Charlotte from Scunthorpe told us she did well at school, was put off university by the thought of debt, and was immensely proud now to have an apprenticeship at the steelworks.

John Prescott attacked the media and Theresa May (“Jeremy doesn’t do personal but I do”). “Who hasn’t registered to vote? You’ve 4 hours left.” One hand went up. “Give that bugger an i-pad”. At the rally’s end, “the lad’s a hero, he has registered, one more voter!” to cheers.

Every topic was mentioned except Brexit: not a word about it in any speech. Silence on the biggest issue. How do you explain that?

Instead we said ‘preaching to the converted’ as we left: no good blaming the media, you need a good communications team. Does Corbyn and/or Labour have one?

Jackie Lukes

May 2017

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