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UK's Corbyn summons festival spirit in bid for youth vote

access_time 7-06-2017, 05:43 chat_bubble_outline 33 views
UK's Corbyn summons festival spirit in bid for youth vote
View photos[/i]Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a general election campaign event in Birmingham, central England, on June 6, 2017

Tapping into reserves of youthful enthusiasm, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn leads chants of "for the many, not the few" at a campaign rally more akin to a music festival.

The veteran leftist, whose party has surged in the polls after being given no chance at the start of the general election campaign, was speaking Tuesday at a windswept park in Birmingham, central England, in an attempt to mobilise the youth vote.

Comedian and Hollywood actor Steve Coogan led the calls, urging the 1,000- strong crowd to "rise like lions from the slumber.

"You have to go out and vote," he said. "We've got an opportunity to take back our country."

A DJ had already whipped up the crowd, many carrying cans of beer and placards bearing the campaign slogan, booming hip-hop and 1970s funk songs across the park.

They roared their approval as the 68-year-old Corbyn took the stage for one of his final appearances before Thursday's vote.

"When you invest in young people you invest in the future of all of us," he said.

"We are leaving no place untouched, no stone unturned, we are going all out to win."

A vivid rainbow on the horizon momentarily stole his thunder, with some audience members saying it was a good omen.

But law student Hannah Fisher, 19, said the Labour Party leader "did not need divine intervention" to defeat Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative Party.

"If all the young people turn out he will be prime minister," she told AFP.

"At the beginning the media was controversial to Corbyn, but after the manifesto, people have seen it's not just about Corbyn and people are moving towards Labour."

Others may see it as a sign of the elusive pot of gold needed to fund the spending-heavy manifesto, but Corbyn insisted Britain could carry the burden.

"It does cost, but we live in a country of great riches," he told the crowd, in the shadow of Birmingham's university.

"We have to be a society that cares for all."

- 'Very compassionate' -

Angelos, 16, said that he had come to support Labour, despite being too young to vote, due to its policies on free tuition fees and school dinners.

"My mum was on benefits, I'm not from a wealthy family, so he would get my vote."

Despite an unprecedented closing in the polls, Corbyn is still an outside bet to unseat May and become prime minister, and most supporters were hopeful, rather than expectant.

"If you look at the polls when the election started, he was 25 percent behind Theresa May, there are now polls showing it at one percent," said Socialist Party member Dan Crawter, 24.

"What resonates is the change from the austerity that we've had from the Tories and also the same old, same old we had from Labour."

"There needs to be a strong injection of social awareness and a real willingness to deal with social problems," said Lawrence Dodd, who was holding a banner depicting Corbyn and John Lennon.

Rylma White, 72, added: "He's got a chance, he's very compassionate."

Dodd drew comparisons to former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, arguing they were both "fighting against a very strong, deeply entrenched part of the establishment."

Many said they would toast a Corbyn victory down the pub, with Crawter admitting "it'll take a few days!"

However, he added that the election would only be the first step in implementing a socialist programme.

"We have to bear in mind that the Blairites (supporters of former prime minister Tony Blair) in the Labour party still hate him," he said.

"He's going to have trouble getting the programme through so we have to push on as far as we can."

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