Clean Bandit, Wolf Alice and Steve Coogan turned up to support Corbyn ahead of the June 8 election
Last night (June 6), The Labour Party held a ‘grand finale’ rally in six different cities at the same time. It was massive – musicians like Clean Bandit, Reverend and the Makers and Wolf Alice turned up, plus comedian Steve Coogan and actor Maxine Peake. Events were held in Birmingham, Brighton, London, Glasgow, Barry and Warrington.
With less than 24 hours until the polls open, there’s nothing on BBC News about Corbyn’s six-city rally, save for a brief blurb on his visit to Telford. Admittedly, by this stage in a campaign, rallies are so commonplace they’re barely worth reporting on (unless it’s local news), but this felt different.
Alan Partridge star Steve Coogan gave an impassioned speech in a rain-soaked Birmingham rally. On the Tories, he declared: “They don’t want young people to vote, because they’re not trying to appeal to young people.”
Clean Bandit performed their ‘Rockabye’ single to a thousand-strong crowd. Cellist Grace Chatto, whose pro-Corbyn t-shirt was blurred out during BBC’s One Love Manchester broadcast, introduced the song by saying: “It’s about single mothers who are struggling to make ends meet, and who are left behind by the system… Over the past six years of Conservative rule, we have seen a systematic dismantling of the welfare state. Women like this have been left forgotten and uncared for. I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think it’s fair. And I don’t think it’s necessary. That is one reason we’re standing with Labour. We agree with the basic principle that every child deserves a shot at a good life – not just those born into rich families.”
Coogan then introduced first-time voter Saffiyah Khan, who made headlines earlier this year when boldly facing down a member of the EDL (English Defence League) and standing up to racism. She spoke about a “debt my generation will find very hard to pay off,” telling the crowd to “stand together for a brighter future.”
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Jeremy Corbyn closed the Birmingham rally by asking, “How much more can people take of a government that is only interested in the wealthiest of our society, and not the majority?” Closing off, he passionately said: “We’re young, we’re old, we’re black, we’re white, we’re gay, we’re straight, we’re men, we’re women, we’re everything! We are people doing things together. Because that is what this election is about.” His speech was beamed to crowds in the five other cities, making it Labour’s biggest event of the election so far.
An actual populist movement is sweeping the country. This isn’t a leader chanting slogans outside a campaign bus to a dozen placard-holding, organised supporters. People are getting swept up. Labour is “real, serious and here,” Corbyn declared. Many claim support for the party extends no further than a social media bubble, but this felt very real.