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At the very last minute, Wessex Scene had the privilege of attending a top-secret Labour Party event. What makes this especially unique is that although it was classified as a ‘no press’ event, we were fortunate enough to not only attend it, but also provide a national media exclusive by covering the event through Twitter and a live-blog.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party and Official Opposition, was one of the main speakers of this event. He set out the aims and objectives of Labour’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ as well as discussing issues such as Brexit, austerity and the looming likelihood of a General Election. His visit to Southampton was a brief one, and following his speech he was quickly hurried out by security. However, before he returned to London, he was kind enough to answer a few of my burning questions…
I was led by his press officer to a not-ominous-at-all fire escape, where I was instructed to wait for Jeremy once he was done taking selfies with his swathes of adoring fans. Was it the Paxman-esque green room I was hoping for? Far from it, but at least I was able to have my interview.
Why it is important for young people to engage in politics and activism?
Jeremy: So that they can vote for elections and are able to determine their own future. I hope they will support our plans for a National Education Service, which would take the commodity out of education and assert their right obviously for school education, but also for their rights to apprenticeships and University education without charge.
There’s a student mental health crisis. Suicide rates are at an all-time high. How would a Labour Government tackle that?
Jeremy: There would not only be better funding for CAHMS service in local communities but there would also a requirement for universities to provide proper mental health support. In some cases its quite good and in others it is non-existent, and where it is good that is normally due to the pressure of Student Unions. I think we need mental health advice and support services in Universities and in schools. Having attended the funerals, sadly, of school students who have taken their own lives in my own community (Editor’s Note: Islington) and talking to their friends, it led to a realisation; a horrible realisation of the stress they live on in society. So yes we will deal with the mental health crisis, but we also need to look at the stress in education and the stress in poverty.
What are your thoughts on the XR protests in London happening at the moments? Politicians have had mixed feelings about it…
Jeremy: I have every sense of support for them. I have met many of them and support the demands they are putting forward, and what they’ve done, Extinction Rebellion is that they’ve actually educated the entire population, and their presence outside of Parliament is a welcome relief from the normal traffic jams.
The driver at this point was getting a little impatient, but before Corbyn ran off I managed to squeeze in one more question.
How will Labour’s proposals for rented accommodation impact upon students, if at all?
Jeremy: It will impact students quite a lot because we will be introducing longer tenancies, removing no-fault-eviction, we will be requiring better environmental standards and we’ll be introducing locally-determined rent control so that the exploitation and insecurity of the private-rented sector will be brought under control.
Of course, I couldn’t let him leave without getting a picture, but then he was off; presumably back to Westminster to shout at Boris Johnson again.