Speaking to a crowd of about 5,000 people at a campaign rally in Liverpool, Jeremy Corbyn has described the challenge to his leadership of the Labour party as a ‘massive opportunity to reach out to people all across the country. Police had to close roads surrounding St George’s Plateau in the centre of the city when the event, which was organised with only two days notice, attracted large crowds. Carrying banners reading ‘Scousers for Corbyn’ and ‘We chose Jez’, the Labour leader’s supporters clambered on statues and railings to catch a glimpse of him as he spoke.
‘I don’t see this leadership contest as a distraction,’ said Corbyn. ‘I see it as a massive opportunity to reach out to people all across this country and have the strength and confidence [to stand up to] those who tell us that nothing we’re trying to do is possible, that what we have to do is compromise with the Tory philosophy and free market ideas and all will be well.’
Corbyn told the audience that it was the biggest crowd he had had yet at one of his campaign rallies.
Taking questions after a speech in which he was introduced as ‘the next Labour party leader and the next prime minister of this country’, Corbyn emphasised the importance of interacting with people who did not automatically think like him.
‘If you’re going to be effective in politics you’ve got to listen to people, some of whom may not agree with you, some of whom may have criticisms, some of whom may have constructive suggestions for you. The idea that I live in some kind of remote bubble of adulation is nonsense.’
[First published in The Guardian on Monday August 1st. For the full and unabridged version of this article, click here.]