Despite having a pretty rough week so far, embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn showed no sign of quitting when he addressed a rally of supporters, insisting he was “proud” to continue his work. Addressing a crowd at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, Mr Corbyn did not mention the threat to his leadership.
Although he overwhelmingly lost a confidence vote by 172 to 40 yesterday, Corbyn insisted he still has a “people’s mandate” to remain as leader. Instead he downplayed the turmoil in the party, saying some people did not “completely agree” with him.
He said: “We’re in the midst of a very interesting political time in this country, I was very honoured to be elected to lead the Labour Party last year.
“I have done my best over this year to develop the policy changes we want and to reach out to people and to recognise that there are many people in the party who don’t completely agree with the direction I want to take it.
“But I also recognise that the mandate was given by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people joining in a political process, just as is happening across Europe, just as is happening across the United States, because they want to see a politics that is more reflective of them, their lives, their community and aspirations rather than the economic orthodoxy of the retreat of the wealth to the wealthiest that the poor may get poorer. It is simply immoral and wrong.
“Surely together we have strength. Surely together we can harness the technology we’ve got and not be afraid of press barons who attack us.
“That’s why we contested the leadership of this party a year ago, that’s why I’m very proud to be carrying on with that work.”
When he was heckled by an onlooker about his EU campaign, he said: “Last week there was a vote to leave the European Union, it wasn’t my wish, it wasn’t the wish I suspect of a large number of people here, and we now have a difficult economic situation to deal with.
“We now have to demand that we gain protection for the workers’ rights that we’ve got, gain protection for the social chapter we’ve got, the environmental and sustainability regulations that we’ve got and all of those issues.
“But what I am absolutely appalled by is the rise of racist attacks and racist violence over the past week in this country. This afternoon I went to the Polish Centre in Hammersmith to express my support and sympathy to them. The vote last week was a vote of anger, it was a vote of desperation in many places around the country.”
The heckler responded by simply calling him a “moron”.
Throughout the rally his supporters urged onlookers to join the Labour Party and vote for Corbyn when the almost inevitable leadership election is held.
Chairwoman of Young Labour Caroline Hill told the rally Corbyn “isn’t going anywhere”.
“Everyone kept saying ‘look, look at Jeremy Corbyn’ and suddenly things have started to change and people all over Europe recognise that that is Jeremy Corbyn.
“We can continue to let the MPs play their games in Parliament, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – Jeremy’s definitely not – we know he has the support of thousands of party members, we know that the unions support Jeremy.
“Screw those people messing around, we’re not going anywhere.”