Jeremy Corbyn does Live at the Apollo - and it sums up his whole general election campaign - Dan Bloom

Jeremy Corbyn does Live at the Apollo – and it sums up his whole general election campaign – Dan Bloom

Political News

“ManchestEEER!” bellowed Angela Rayner.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be LIVE AT THE APOLLO!”

Sure, there was no Michael McIntyre. No primetime TV audience. The warm-up act was the Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for West Derby.

And the jokes weren’t that funny…

… Actually, maybe it was a bit like Live at the Apollo after all.

Jeremy Corbyn’s gigs – sorry, rallies – have always felt as much like crowd-participation live drama as a political event.

And Thursday night’s, at Manchester’s Apollo, showed he has no plan to reinvent the wheel he’s rolled on since gaining those seats in 2017.

 


The Labour activists cheered, chanted, stood and waved placards emblazoned “it’s time for real change” as Labour’s leader worked the crowd for 25 minutes.

Little to none of it was ‘news’ in the traditional sense.

Sure, there were plenty of policies, but all announced before, for anyone who bothers to get on Google.

The thing is – and we in Westminster do forget this – to this crowd of ultra-faithful it doesn’t matter a jot.

The cut-and-thrust of the campaign matters less than the feeling of being part of a spectacle, a movement.

They chanted “not! for! sale!” – the mantra of the 2019 campaign – as he warned of an NHS sell-out to Donald Trump.

 



 

They booed the Lib Dems, who leapt on the event with a blazing ad van declaring “Only Lib Dems will stop Brexit.”

They laughed as Corbyn boasted of his £1m in small donations: “I was going to call all my billionaire friends until I realised I didn’t have any!”

And one shouted “w***er!” as Corbyn told how Boris Johnson would crash Britain out of the EU with no deal.

“It’s not pantomime season yet!” Corbyn cried, the stage lightbulbs blazing behind him.

Agree with any of it or none, anyone can see how the atmosphere jars with images of Boris Johnson.

On the day Labour unveiled its bog-standard campaign bus, the Prime Minister toured the country in a private jet he nicknamed ‘Con Air’.


Insulated from the public, the PM has issued videos of himself from the back of a chauffeur-driven Merc.

And just compare the rote-learned “get Brexit dones” and “oven-ready deals” with Angela Rayner’s warm-up speech.

“I was that kid who grew up in a council house,” she said. “My mum was from Wythenshawe and couldn’t read or write. I left school without qualifications, pregnant at 16.


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General election 2019

“l felt ashamed of who I was. I felt I was nothing. And I remember at the time there was a Tory minister at the time saying girls like me were getting pregnant to get council housing. That’s what they think”.

The story is well-worn, but it was told with genuine passion and anger, spoken from the heart.

All of these, as it happens, are things you could say about Labour’s election campaign.

The real question is whether its fanbase will grow from cult theatre hit to primetime on BBC Two.

Only on December 13 will we really know the answer.




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