When Jeremy Corbyn came to address a rally in Mansfield, I caught up with him and interviewed him for the Nottingham Post. It was the first time Corbyn had been in Mansfield since the Labour Party had lost the seat to the Tories – for the first time in a century. Corbyn promised the crowd that the seat would be won back.
Jeremy Corbyn vows to win back Mansfield during rally
Labour lost the seat for the first time in June
Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to fight to win back the Mansfield constituency by giving young people the hope of a “future in the area”.
Addressing a rally organised in Mansfield on Saturday afternoon, the Labour leader said the party would win in Mansfield and in marginal constituencies in Nottinghamshire if another election was to be held nationally.
Speaking to the Post following the rally, Mr Corbyn said that Labour needed understand the “needs of communities” such as Mansfield, where the party lost in June after having held the seat for 94 years.
“We also to be looking at the needs of healthcare and housing and industrial and economic investment to keep young people in the area to give them a future in the area. That’s what we propose to do,” he said.
“We need more government involvement to ensure fairness. The East Midlands has the lowest level of central government expenditure of any English region. That can’t be right.”
Mr Corbyn was visiting Mansfield as part of a summer tour of the country which has taken in 50 constituencies. Earlier on Saturday the leader met supporters in the constituencies of Broxtowe and Erewash, both of which are held by Conservative MPs, and on Friday he visited Corby, Leicester and Loughborough.
Saturday’s rally, held on Carr Bank Park on the edge of the town, was attended by an estimated 2,000 people. Members of the crowd carried banners for a number of local causes including the campaign against the closure of the Chatsworth Rehabilitation Centre.
Addressing the crowd, Mr Corbyn criticised the newly elected Mansfield MP, saying that “his first actions in parliament were to vote to retain the public sector pay cap thus continuing to underpay NHS staff, teachers and many others in the public services”.
The Midlands has proved to be a key battle ground between Labour and the Conservatives, who made strong gains in a number of seats driven partly by the falling away of support for UKIP.
Labour retained core seats in Nottingham but lost Mansfield to Conservative MP Ben Bradley, and narrowly held on to neighbouring Ashfield where Gloria De Piero’s lead was reduced to a little over 400.
Mr Corbyn said that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could have significant effects on areas such as Mansfield, which voted 70.83% in favour of leaving the Union.
Britain needs a “jobs-first Brexit”, he said, to protect companies that have “supply chains on both sides of the Channel”.
He said: “We will protect those supply chains. That means a tariff-free access to the European markets. But it’s also about protecting workers’ rights; all those things are very important and all came from EU regulation.
“Those that have made their homes in this country have made an incredible contribution. We will guarantee rights of residence to EU nationals who are here.”
Alan Meale, who was defeated in June after having held the Mansfield constituency for 30 years, has declared he will not stand again. Next month Labour will begin the process of selecting a new candidate to stand in a future general election