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‘United in a glorious vision of what could be’

Attending a mass meeting in Cornwall, one of the many huge events across the nation as the people rally to support Corbyn, MARY FLETCHER captures the magic in this moment

I THOUGHT of writing about the rally at Falmouth as a cultural event – but as a convinced socialist, the happiest I’ve ever been with our Labour Party is now Jeremy Corbyn is our leader, and, desperately hoping for a Labour government and to remain in the European Union, I am hardly a dispassionate observer.

It’s a bit like a rock concert — tickets are free but sell out online in an hour. We have to queue to get in and our bags are searched. Red paper bands are put around our wrists. Some turn up without tickets and some manage to blag their way in while others remain in the building, unable to enter or hear what’s happening.

There’s music before and at some other points. There are only a few seats — people are standing, some with drinks from the bar, some with tiny children on their shoulders, many holding up phones to take photos and video for social media. I run into friends and one takes a selfie of us — on which I notice I look really happy.

There’s a build-up, the local candidates speak first: Jennifer Forbes, who is very bright and heartwarming, Paul Farmer fervent and amusing by turns — and looking attractive in a three-piece suit and Cornish tartan tie. He speaks in Cornish as he begins. He recalls our famous inventor Trevithick, who designed the first steam engine. He looks forward to future inventors who will save us from climate-change disasters.

Then it’s Angela Rayner, glamorous, with golden-red long hair and a bright green jacket, waving her arms about — shadow education minister — full of beans, smiling. At times there’s a pantomime atmosphere with the crowd responding, singing the well-known “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” refrain with love and hope in their hearts — or shouting that “our NHS is not for sale” — not to Trump.

You can speak to anyone. There are hundreds of Labour people, the atmosphere is electric and warm. A dissenting male grumbler is heard briefly but swamped by the general wild enthusiasm. Many of us are activists, people who tramp round leafleting and canvassing, workers — and it’s so nice to be in celebratory mood, as if we know for certain we will win the election, transform our country for the better and save the world from climate change. We deserve this break from toil to be recharged.

Then it’s the star of the show, Jeremy Corbyn — surprisingly as fresh as a daisy, humorous, honest and true, hopeful and engaging, 70 years old but fuelled with his ardour for the cause, for making life better for the many, not the few. He speaks very well, at ease, fluent, energetic and inspiring.

Labour flags are waving, people are signed up for helping. Surprisingly, no fundraising buckets are rattled.

Then it’s over, we’re out into the rain, finding our comradely lifts home, pleased we came, glowing with hope. It feels like midnight but it’s only just after eight.

The evening is something that we’ll always remember, making sense of and giving meaning to our lives whether we win or lose: trying, co-operating together for the future. Not alienated, passive and despondent — but united in a glorious vision of what could be.


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