Jeremy Corbyn spoke to cheering crowds in York on Wednesday (May 10) – but then was embroiled in a row involving a military veteran.
About 2,000 people gathered in St Helen’s Square to see the Labour leader. Chanting “Corbyn in, Tories out” it was a rapturous reception.
Sharing a platform with the Labour candidate for York Central Rachael Maskell, Mr Corbyn spoke for more than 15 minutes, echoing the slogan on the official party placards: “We are for the many not the few.”
YorkMix live-streamed the speeches on Facebook and you can watch them on the video below.
‘He’s refused to answer’
After he finished a voice from the crowd said: “With all due respect can I ask one question?”
The Labour leader replied: “I’ll come down.”
But Mr Corbyn, who has travelled with a security detail during the election campaign, appeared to be ushered away from the questioner.
YorkMix man on the spot Jack Gevertz was in the crowd and captured this video of the man, Rob Gray, who served in the Northern Ireland forces, complaining to a security officer.
“I was totally respectful,” he said. “What is the position of Labour on the prosecutions of veterans in Northern Ireland?
“That’s all we wanted to ask. And he’s gone off – he knew there was a question waiting for him – he saw the beret and the medals and he went.
“He’s refused to answer as far as I’m concerned.”
Wanted to answer
A senior Labour source played down the row, saying Mr Corbyn went to answer the question, as he has done numerous times with members of the public on the campaign trail, but his logistics team guided him away because they did not want him to go into the large crowd.
A senior member of the leader’s team then spoke to the man for 15 minutes about Labour’s policy on the prosecution of veterans in Northern Ireland, the source said.
A Labour spokesman said: “Labour supports the Good Friday Agreement, which states that the Crown Prosecution Service should be able to prosecute for the most serious crimes committed by any party to the conflict. Labour believes it is vital for all sides to uphold the Good Friday Agreement.”
Beautiful, special city
On York, Mr Corbyn said: “This is a very beautiful and very special city.
“You all know that. The Minster, the streets, the community and everything else.
“But beautiful buildings don’t necessarily give you happiness. If you’re homeless, you are homeless, whether you’re in front of an ancient building or not.
“And the crisis of housing in this country has to be addressed.”
He then talked about jobs and the economy.
“This town, this city gave chocolates and sweets to me as a child, gives chocolates to the whole country.
“I think chocolate should still be made here in York.”
Contrast to PM’s appearance
The rally was in stark contrast with Theresa May’s appearance behind closed doors at the Barbican on Tuesday.
Mr Corbyn and Ms Maskell drew comparisons between the rally and that speech, as supporters accused the Prime Minister of hiding from the public.
The Labour leader, who at one point held a speaker aloft so the crowd could hear Ms Maskell, made a point of stating that many of his campaign stops have seen him in the open air, meeting supporters and members of the public.
Mr Corbyn said he would not attack Mrs May personally but after someone in the front row passed him a bottle of water because his throat was sore, he quipped: “You see the power of people coming together, you help each other out.”
Ms Maskell said of the PM’s visit: “There was a bit of a chill in the air wasn’t there, I understand somebody came to town and turned their back on the people of York.”
Several supporters picked up on the theme, with signs asking “Where’s Theresa?” and “has anyone seen Theresa? #nogutsmay” among those on display a day after Mrs May visited the city.