Jeremy Corbyn supporters pack out final rally in Tufnell Park
Jeremy Corbyn, the overwhelming favourite to become Labour leader on Saturday, received a raptuous homecoming last night in a packed final rally in Tufnell Park.
The Rock Tower rally was packed to the rafters with an outside overspill of enthusiastic Corbynites, who have been inspired by Mr Corbyn’s anti-austerity message and promise of a new kind of straight-talking “honest politics”.
Among the speakers was Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, who branded him “the voice of reason”.
The audience had to wait a while for the main man to speak, as they sat through speeches from Len McCluskey of Unite, numerous MPs, councillors and supporters including Guardian columnist Owen Jones, before Mr Corbyn finally addressed his flock.
He told the captive audience of around 1,500: ”Many people are turned off by a political process when the major parties are not saying anything different enough on the economy and how we deal with the issues of austerity.”
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Several of the 35 Labour MPs who nominated Mr Corbyn were speaking at the event, including Ms West, who has been friends with him for many years through her time as leader of Islington Council.
Ms West said that in her consituency, she regularly meets people who are affected by issues surrounding working tax credits, disability and the benefits caps, as well as the acute shortage of genuinely affordable and social housing.
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She told the audience: “We know that what he has given us is hope for a more socially just society. The reason why many of us are in the Labour Party is because we want to tackle the growing inequality that we see in society.”
Ms West said people were attracted to Mr Corbyn’s politics of peace at a time when they feared the prospect of military intervention in the Syrian crisis.
She said: “So many of us are worried about entering a conflict when there will be four warring parties, and we know that Jeremy will be the voice of reason.”
Ms West’s neighbouring Labour MPs, Sir Keir Starmer and Tulip Siddiq, are both backing Andy Burnham, although both have said they believe it is important for the parliamentary Labour Party to unite behind Mr Corbyn if he wins on Saturday.
Sir Keir, who represents Holborn and St Pancras, has not ruled out serving in a Corbyn cabinet, although he said: “I think it would be presumptuous to think that anyone would even ask.”
He said he had backed Mr Burnham because he thought that he was the person best place to unite the party, but said the unexpected Corbynmania which has enthused many young and disaffected voters, was a force for good in the Labour party.
Ms Siddiq was one of a number of MPs who only nominated Mr Corbyn to “widen the debate” about the future direction of the Labour Party, and believed it was important to include a traditional left-wing candidate on the ticket.
These MPs have been branded “morons” by former adviser to Tony Blair, John McTerran but Ms Siddiq said this kind of name calling is “unhelpful”.
She has said she would not accept an invitation to serve in a Corbyn cabinet because she is a new MP and still settling into the job rather than because of any issue with Mr Corbyn.
Eleven councillors from Camden have also gone on the record as supporting Mr Corbyn, who enjoys the support of the majority of trade unions.
Mr Corbyn’s odds of winning the leadership race began at 100-1, but he is now such a hot favourite to win that some bookies have already paid out on bets that he will win.