On The Scene Summary: Jeremy Corbyn’s Southampton Rally

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On Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn and Rebecca Long-Bailey rallied Southampton Labour members behind a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, promising to give power to the people. Despite this being a ‘no press‘ event, Wessex Scene live-blogged and Tweeted along, with Editor Charlotte Colombo granted a short interview with the Labour leader.

Prior to the rally, Corbyn and Long-Bailey visited Fawley, where wind-turbine components are manufactured on the site of a former oil power station. Council Leader Christopher Hammond, Parliamentary candidate for Southampton Itchen Simon Letts, Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead and Holly Catto, a climate-striker from Barton Peveril sixth form college, all spoke of the need for a Labour Government to fight back against climate breakdown.

At her first-ever protest in London, this summer Holly Catto held a placard asking: ‘Why are we studying for a future that we don’t have?’ Despite her previous disappointment in the Party, Labour’s ‘Green New Deal’ policies renewed her hope that effective top-down action will be taken to combat the climate crisis. Meanwhile, she argued that the Conservative Government’s response to the issue has been inadequate, as ‘Mr Johnson will not see the country swallowed by seas in his lifetime… but I probably will.’

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, admitted that Holly’s speech was a tough act to follow. Long-Bailey cited the impacts of climate change such as food shortages in this country, in part due to our reliance on imports, leaving the poorest hit the hardest. However, she spoke of Labour’s ‘Green New Deal’ as inspiring the kind of hope and optimism that she felt as a child when she read about futuristic technology in the Quest magazines her father gave her.

The eagerly-awaited Labour leader rose to the stage to rapturous applause, announcing that Labour will lower the voting age to sixteen, allowing young people such as climate-striker Holly a greater say in British politics. Corbyn explained that Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution ‘isn’t going to be one from above, it has to be done by communities’ and that it ‘will be cheaper for the masses, and ensure a greener future’. He proceeded to list the devastating effects brought about by fossil fuels such as air pollution, causing, for example, 10% of children in Glasgow to lose lung capacity. At the Paris Climate Change Accords Corbyn was humbled to meet people from countries such as Bolivia who have suffered from escalating droughts as a result of man-made climate change.

Corbyn announced that ‘The Labour Government will not walk hand in hand with Donald Trump, but alongside the people’. Furthermore, moving onto Brexit, Corbyn asserted passionately that in any trade deal Our NHS is not for sale to any American company’, warning that a no-deal Brexit risks us “fall[ing]into the arms of the American Government”. Since the 2016 EU Referendum, the Labour leader has travelled across the country, concluding that Leavers and Remainers are united by one common enemy, the Conservative Government. With just one Prime Minister’s Questions featuring Boris Johnson and numerous Government defeats in the House of Commons, Corbyn questioned the PM’s democratic accountability.

Whilst Corbyn decried the ‘nasty cold and hostile environment‘ for the poor brought about by the Conservatives’ and Liberal Democrats’ austerity since 2010, he claimed that his General Election campaign ‘will not be getting into the gutter with anybody”, but will focus on Labour Party policies’. Amongst the policies that he proceeded to list were wide-scale nationalisation, overturning the league-table driven education system and ending tuition fees, which would be paid for by an increase in corporation taxes. As part of Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution, profits from off-shore renewable energy would be reinvested into coastal communities such as Southampton. Corbyn attacked the mainstream media for failing to report on Labour’s policies, stating that ‘The road to a Labour Government lies not in the Daily Mail, but on us to provide a positive message of hope’. Corbyn’s speech concluded with a standing-ovation from the audience.

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Politics Editor 2019/20 Studying Politics & International Relations

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