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Stand-up for Jeremy Corbyn

JeremyCorbyn1One hundred and seventy Jeremy Corbyn supporters crammed into the Seven Dials Club, Covent Garden, on Sunday evening to hear stand-up comedy to support Jeremy as Labour leadership contender. The event was organised by Crispin Flintoff, who has organised 155 Stand-up for Labour events, held all around the UK. (It is indicative of the lack of imagination of Labour’s managerial plods that they have given no backing to Crispin’s amazing achievement in organising so many events.)

The Corbyn supporters started to gather in the club from 6.00. A spread of tasty food (included in the ticket price) was available. The atmosphere was friendly and enthusiastic. Conversations participated in and overheard made it clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature had offered a tremendous sense of relief. Relief that ideas and aspirations (yes, aspirations!) that have for so long enjoyed only a subterranean existence in the Labour Party had once again become common topics of conversation. By becoming a contender for leadership Jeremy Corbyn has made it possible to once again discuss the sort of society we want to live in without shutting down conversation with assertions (usually without basis) about what will and won’t win elections.

The event included five comedians, two poets and two speakers. Before the interval we heard comedians Jo Wells, Grainne Maguire, Steve Parry and the poet Daniel Jakopovich. In the second part we had political commentary from Lindsey German from Stop the War followed by comedian Mark McGowan (‘The Artist Taxi Drier’). This was followed by poet Alistair Cartwright, then comedian Steve Gribbin and finally, what everyone was waiting for, a speech by Jeremy Corbyn.

When his enthusiastic reception had died down Jeremy opened up with:

Friends, I won’t be long because you’ve had entertainment and I’m not part of the entertainment. I would just like to give you a bit of a message.

The 20-minute ‘message’ which followed was keenly followed the audience which punctuated it with many signs of approval. They were clearly up for it and the least one can say is that the reception was highly positive. Jeremy opened with a commitment:

I will never indulge in any personal abuse against anybody. I never have and I never will.

I want to live in a world where there is peace not war, respect not contempt and that is the way I would like the whole of our society to be. If we set examples ourselves then maybe we can get people to follow us.

Reference was made to the date (26th July) as the one on which a Labour government was elected in 1945. That government:

…brought about the welfare state, the National Health Service and the public ownership of a large number of major industries. That shaped the future, brought full employment to those who had come back from the war, and brought in a system that guaranteed that all children grew up with a degree of good health care. I remember, as a child in the 1950s, those little bottles of National Health Service orange juice because they thought it was good for us and right for us. That was the government that shaped post-war Britain ….

And whilst yes, there are plenty of things that I disagree with about what that government did, particularly with regard to foreign policy, I recognise that that election of people who had come back from the most grotesque and appalling war in history, those people who had been the hunger marchers in the 30’s, those that had seen the means test and all the vileness that went with that towards working class communities, by their determination, by their unity, by the Left Book Club, by the Labour Party, by the trade unions, by all those progressive organisations, they built the basis on which a Labour government was elected in 1945 without the support of any national newspaper save the Daily Herald. I think there’s a message there.

Throughout his talk Jeremy Corbyn emphasised the importance of popular action in bringing about change, that change was something that happened when people decided that it should happen and were prepared to do something about it. He said that when progressive change is achieved through institutions such as Parliament, this is only on the basis of the pressure provided by large numbers of people making the arguments and demanding that things be done differently.

He went on to talk about international problems, the plight of refugees and migrants and the children caught up in all this. He argued that we have a duty of care to all of them and that we have to resist isolationist and xenophobic arguments. This did not mean proposing simplistic panaceas. He said in conclusion:

Now, none of this is simple, I don’t underestimate any of that. But what I’ve noticed over the past six weeks has been the massive numbers of people who have come together in this campaign to work on so many issues who want to see our Party doing things differently. I don’t want people just to be supporters. I want them to join the Labour Party so that they can take part in debate about that change.

Above all it gives us a lot of hope … the strength of people coming together. You all get stronger as a result. You become better at defending each other and better at making changes. Changes don’t just happen because of elections. They don’t just happen because of Parliament. They happen because of popular movements. … It was popular action that achieved so much that is good in our society. Let’s be strong. Let’s be optimistic. Let’s walk with hope in our hearts. Let’s above all make sure that we achieve some real change in this country.

Crispin Flintoff brought the proceedings to a close at 10.00. It was a highly successful event which fulfilled its purpose of raising money for Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign, bringing like-minded people together and encouraging them to get involved. Mention should be made of the venue (the Seven Dials Club) which offered its premises free of charge for the event. It is a good venue and that helped to make a really worthwhile evening possible.

You can watch Jeremy’s speech on the links below:

Part one:

Part two:

Part three:


  1. Dave B says:

    Oh bugger! I wish I lived in London! I would have loved to have been there!

  2. john Redi says:

    was Ava Vidal there, she said she’d leave if corbyn doesn’t win, not that I think she has a clue what most potential labour voters feel, and Wasn’t crispin considered by you lot one of the right wingers who stood for the NEC, and Didn’t Kinnock back him for it

  3. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    The best and most resonant comment that I heard whilst watching it on u-tube, was, “finally Labor have a candidate that we needn’t be ashamed of.”

  4. swatantra says:

    ‘Stand up! Stand up for Corbyn!’ (Nigel Barton!)

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