Corbyn’s a no-show at York rally – but filming for election broadcast goes ahead without him

1 Dec 2019 @ 3.49 pm
| Politics

Mounting excitement gave way to major disappointment in York today as Jeremy Corbyn failed to turn up to his own celebration.

In what could be seen as an own goal for the Labour Party, its leader didn’t make it to address a rally in the city centre that activists had been urged to attend.

Labour had called upon Mr Corbyn’s supporters to turn out in numbers to support him in the centre of York – and take part in filming for a final party political broadcast. And they did do – in their hundreds.

There was a party atmosphere in St Helen’s Square, the rallying point for the event. People young and old were all smiles, carrying various placards in support of Labour and Mr Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn supporters in St Helen’s Square
Focus switched to Exhibition Square

He was to have walked with supporters through the city to Exhibition Square where he would make a speech.

Despite being only a short distance away at York College, Mr Corbyn was unable to make it through the traffic to join the large crowd, which gathered first in St Helen’s Square and then in Exhibition Square.

York Central Labour candidate Rachael Maskell told the crowd he could’t make it because the traffic was too bad.

But he will return “when he’s Prime Minister”. She then filmed the crowd singing “Prime Minister Corbyn” and pledged to send the video to the Labour leader.

Filming went ahead

The film crew shooting footage for a Labour Party election broadcast
Filming for the election cast went ahead without Mr Corbyn.

Labour supporters were filmed marching through parts of the city, including along Duncombe Place close to York Minster.

His no-show today prompted a mixed reaction on Twitter:

The event had caused controversy before it began. Chair of York Retail Forum Phil Pinder said the news could put people off from coming to York on one of the most important shopping weekends of the year.

York College speech

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn making a speech at York College. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Earlier Mr Corbyn had given a speech at York College. In it he warned people cannot be kept safe “on the cheap” as he said the government can make acts of terror less likely in the wake of the London Bridge attack, saying:

  • I will always do whatever is necessary and effective to keep our people safe. First of all, the police who put themselves on the line to protect us will have the authority to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save lives.

    If police believe an attacker is wearing a suicide vest, then they are right to take the action that they do and did.

    We have to understand that no government can prevent every attack. No-one would believe any political leader who said they could. But the government can act to make such acts of terror less, rather than more, likely.

Mr Corbyn meets supporters at York College
The Labour leader added that it is “time to stop clinging on to Donald Trump’s coat-tails” and not “ignore evidence of Russian oligarchs and their money being used to try and buy influence in our politics”.

He said: “Boris Johnson has been the world’s leading sycophant towards the President (Trump).”

He continued: “Britain must make its own foreign policy free from a knee-jerk subservience to a US administration which repudiates our values.”

Read updates on political developments in our election live blog