Corbyn ignites biggest Norwich political rally in recent years

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn at Open, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn at Open, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn sparked one of the biggest political rallies in Norwich of recent times as hundreds turned out to hear him speak.

The left-wing veteran politician headed out onto Bank Plain after arriving at the event at Open to address those who had failed to secure their spot in the main hall, where he then took to the stage to make his pitch which prompted cheers and a standing ovation.

The Islington North MP told supporters, including children as young as six, that it had been Norwich South MP Clive Lewis who had told him it was his 'duty' to stand to lead the party.

The first supporter arrived at Open at 4.15pm to ensure she would get a seat in the 900-strong capacity venue, and she was quickly joined by hundreds more members and non-members interested in what the unexpected bookies favourite had to say.

Mr Corbyn, who has previous spoken at anti-war meetings in the city and campaigned during the General Election, described the 'pride and presence' of the city which he said had a great history and traditions.

The candidate, who supports the renationalisation of the railways, said Norfolk needed more investment in housing and rail infrastructure to help its industrial development.

He said that Labour had failed to win the seats it needed at the last election in the region because it was not offering a clear alternative or hope.

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'A lot of Labour voters were not excited by what we were saying and ended up not voting, or voting for UKIP,' he said.

But he said the region could be won back. 'There was a time when much of Norfolk was represented by Labour MPs. Bert Hazell [former North Norfolk MP] and many others were Labour MPs all over this county.

'There was a time when we had Yarmouth, Waveney and obviously Ipswich, and so on further south. We can win them back, I am confident about it,' he said.

'People in rural areas have lost out on rural bus services, housing and housing opportunities. They lose out because of second homes taking over villages.'

'With sensible planning policies we can do a lot to improve people's lives in rural areas,' he said. 'You can't do it if you leave it to the market.'

Mr Corbyn is an ally of the newest Norwich MP Clive Lewis. MR Corbyn told the hall: 'He [Clive Lewis] got me into all this. We had these meetings and discussed at some length what we were going to do about the desperation and devastation of the post May 7 scenario and Clive said 'look Jeremy you have a duty to do something here. You have got to support all of us. We stuck our names out and got 11 signatures.'

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