Yesterday, the Labour Party launched its General Election manifesto. And it chose to do so in the building where I work.
We were treated to Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow cabinet, who delivered a presentation and answered questions for around 90 minutes. All in front of the nation’s media, with live TV and internet broadcasts. Naturally, security was tight, and access was limited. Only university staff and students, Labour Party members, and invited members of the media where permitted. This included heavyweight political correspondents such as ITV’s Robert Peston, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and Sky’s Adam Boulton.
I was unable to get a seat, so I had to watch from one of the balconies above with no view of the stage. Corbyn got a really warm reception, particularly as the majority of people there were university staff. The biggest cheers were in response to Labour’s policies regarding ending hospital car parking charges, renationalising the railways, and, predictably, ending university tuition fees.
From the university’s perspective, it was great to see a high profile event run so well. This was despite it having been planned at such short notice. But we have form here: seven years ago, then Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to us to make a speech the day before the 2010 General Election. And the university’s first chancellor, back in 1966, was Labour prime minister Harold Wilson; this was something that Corbyn referenced in his speech.
I’m a Labour Party member, so I’ll be voting for Labour next month anyway. Brexit aside, I was very impressed with what Jeremy Corbyn promised us yesterday if elected. Sadly, that’s a big ‘if’; despite recent improvements, Labour are still trailing significantly in the polls. We’ll see what happens come June 9th, when the results will be clear.
All of the above is my own opinion, and not necessarily that of my employer.