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THE campaign to re-elect Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has reached more than two million people since its public launch event on Saturday, organisers revealed yesterday.
Around 1,800 supporters packed Salford’s Lowry Theatre to hear Mr Corbyn set out the need to transform Labour into a “social movement” in order to defeat the Tories.
He told them: “We will win the next general election only as a social movement.“Some people don’t get this yet. They think a movement is something instead of parliamentary politics.
“It’s not. It’s what will make a Labour government possible. We have lost the last two general elections — we cannot carry on as before.”
Thousands more watched his speech via an internet stream on Facebook at simultaneous events being held in London, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Newcastle, Stoke, Cambridge and Glasgow.
And, since then, Mr Corbyn’s vision has been heard or read by millions more through social media.
Another 10,000 Labour members and supporters have already been contacted by volunteers taking part in phone canvassing sessions for Mr Corbyn’s campaign.
Organisers of the campaign said they have taken inspiration from socialist US Senator Bernie Sanders, who by mobilising an army of young supporters and raising millions of dollars in small donations was able to pose a serious challenge to corporate-funded Hillary Clinton’s ultimately successful drive for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
A source said: “The incredible number of people we have reached through this launch has shown how we will communicate with voters across the country, build our movement and secure a Labour government.”
By comparison, just 100 people attended a meeting staged by rival candidate Owen Smith in south London.
Mr Smith told the event, organised by supporter and former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, that there has been an “upsurge in the volume of misogynistic and anti-semitic abuse” since Mr Corbyn became leader.
This allegation follows claims by former leadership challenger Angela Eagle that Mr Corbyn has “stirred” trouble and contributed to a “permissive environment” that led to a brick being thrown through a window in the building which contains her constituency office — although the culprit and motive are unknown.
Mr Corbyn addressed the claims directly on Saturday, saying: “I make it clear today, as I have made it clear many times before: I don’t do personal abuse. I don’t respond to personal abuse. I condemn any abuse from others. It has no place in our party.”
But shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said Mr Corbyn’s opponents were attempting to discredit him by “demonising” his supporters — in an echo of the miners’ vilification by the media during the 1984-85 strike.
He told the rally: “The crime [the miners] were guilty of, in the eyes of the Establishment, was working together in a positive way to stand up for the interests of working-class people and a better society.
“I am not — and others are not — going to stand by and see every one of you portrayed as the striking miners were, as Women Against Pit Closures were — as thugs, brick-throwers, bullies and misogynists.”
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