Jeremy Corbyn: Labour gaining huge amount on Tories amid election fight

April 21 2017, 5.54pmUpdated: April 22 2017, 12.13am
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Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour is “gaining a huge amount of ground” on the Conservatives in the battle to win the general election.

The Labour leader urged voters to “watch this space” despite opinion polls putting his party as many as 24 points behind the Tories ahead of the June 8 vote.

He continued efforts to shift the focus of the campaign away from Theresa May’s call for voters to give her a Brexit negotiating mandate and on to Labour’s aim of tackling inequality.

Speaking during a visit to a children’s centre in Bristol, Mr Corbyn told Sky News: “We’ve just started the election campaign, we’re 72 hours into it and I’m loving every moment of it.

“We’re gaining support, we’re gaining a huge amount of ground and we’re getting a great deal of support.

“Watch this space.”

He added: “We are putting a message out there – this country does not have to be so divided, (there) does not have to be such appalling levels of poverty and unachieved ambition because of people growing up in poverty.

“That’s our message, that’s the one we’re putting out, and the Labour Party is totally united in putting that message out, okay?”

Mr Corbyn also revealed he had not decided whether he would stand down if Labour loses the election.

Asked if he had decided what he will do in the event of defeat, the Labour leader replied: “No decisions at all, what an absurd question.

“We’re 72 hours into the election.”

Hundreds of Labour supporters turned out at Whitchurch Common in Cardiff for Mr Corbyn’s visit to Cardiff North, where he was joined by Welsh Labour leader Carywn Jones.

Mr Corbyn said it was 78 hours into the election campaign and this was his sixth event.

He said: “We are out on the road, taking our message to the whole of the country, taking a message that seven years of this Tory Government and the Coalition (has) brought us greater inequality, greater poverty, greater insecurity, greater misery, greater levels of fear.

“Every time they told us they would pay off the debt and the deficit, it was always five years away.

“It is a five-year plan that is always five years in the future as they continue to cut the budgets of English local authorities and the health service, underfund the Government of Wales and damage the life chances of those with disabilities, damage the life chances of so many others.

“Our job, our task as Labour, is to challenge them.”

Mr Corbyn was heckled by some members of the crowd, shouting for him to stop Brexit, during the the early part of his 20-minute speech, but others told them to shut up.

He said that within a few hours of the general election being called, 2,500 people had joined the Labour Party, with thousands more joining in the last few days.

Mr Corbyn said Labour was the party of “hope and opportunity” for everybody, before speaking about his plans to abolish zero-hours contracts and to introduce a £10 an hour living wage for everybody.

Introducing the Labour leader, Mr Jones said: “We know that Britain faces a choice, a choice between a tired Tory government that has run out of ideas and a Labour Party full of ideas, full of hope for the future.

“In 2010 we were told austerity is necessary.

“In 2017 we are still being told austerity is necessary – but austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity. It is time for change.”

On the topic of education, Mr Corbyn said: “In schools in England where the Tory cuts have been biting the hardest, what are they doing?

“Spending money on grammar schools and free schools and slicing the money from the normal state schools, so schools are collecting money from the parents in England to buy the books.

“In Wales it’s different because you have got a government that is determined to properly fund education and give every child an opportunity.

“That is despite the £9 billion cut the Tories have made to the Welsh Government’s budget.

“There is a difference, and Labour is that difference.”

Mr Corbyn said he applauded what the Welsh Government had done in making sure every child in a Welsh school was properly fed and said he wanted to roll that out across the whole of Britain “so that every child in every school in every part of Britain gets a free school meal together with all the other children in the school”.

He added: “Children that are properly fed learn better and achieve better.”

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