Hundreds of people turned out to hear Jeremy Corbyn deliver a rousing speech at The Priory in Lancaster on Thursday night, November 5.
As the Lancaster skies lit up with fireworks outside, there was something of an explosion inside the church as the Labour leader came into view and the audience broke out into loud and sustained applause.
Mr Corbyn first paid tribute to Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith - who nominated him for Labour leader - saying he had no doubt she would be re-elected with a huge majority in 2020.
He covered issues including fracking, the House of Lords (which he described as a “hangover from the Barons”), voter registration, mental health services, Working Tax Credits, the history of voting, investment and the economy, Prime Minister’s Questions, UK manufacturing, the refugee crisis and cuts to local service budgets.
He referred to an impassioned speech made by Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw earlier, who said “there was little left to cut” within the police service.
Mr Corbyn said: “Clive is describing what is happening to his service.
“I was in Liverpool today hearing what’s happening to the fire and police service there.
“There are disproportionate cuts being made across the north of England.
“Was it police officers or care workers in Liverpool, was it bus drivers in Sheffield that brought about the banking crisis in 2008?
“Or was it the lack of control of the ludicrous free market economics?
“We have to say to him (Chancellor George Osborne) and everyone else, if you’re taking £4bn out of the pockets of low income workers in this country, how can you justify giving tax breaks to the richest 60 people in this country?
“We cannot have a race to the bottom and we will keep up with this campaign.
“We’ve made a choice, and it’s up to George Osborne to make his choice now.”
In relation to the NHS, he said: “There are some very greedy people who have got their hands on our health service.
“I’m not having any of that. We want it as a human right for everyone, and we will defend it as a human right for everyone.”
Mr Corbyn said the country faced a mental health crisis, with one in four people now facing mental health issues at some point in their lives.
He said: “There has to be adequate funding in our mental health service, and that is why I’ve appointed Luciana Berger as our minister for mental health.”
Mr Corbyn fleshed out his ideas about investment and the economy, and talked about an “inclusive politics” where everybody had a voice, which he said resulted in his landslide election as Labour leader.
He said: “We know who pays for the cuts. It’s the poores that pay the most and the richest pay the least.
“I’m not in favour of wasting money. I do get it that ultimately we have to balance the books. But the function of government is to run it for everybody. “That means investing to grow, not cutting to decline.
“George Osborne seems to think the Northern Powerhouse ends at Manchester. We need to invest in a growing economy and a real opportunity for everybody.”
Mr Corbyn added: “I don’t want to see theatricals in politics, I want to see theatricals in the theatre.
“Not everybody is always going to agree with everything, that’s fine, but we can agree on having a more decent, kind society.”
Mr Corbyn urged people to get involved with politics, to make their voice heard, and to challenge governments on policy.
The Rev Chris Newlands, Vicar of Lancaster, provided compere services on the night, observing that he doesn’t usually receive a welcome like that.
He said: “The Priory has been a place where Lancaster people have gathered for hundreds of years.
“Where people would gather for meetings, shelter and sanctuary.
“It’s always been at the heart of the community of the city.
“I hope we’re doing just that now. We welcome our speakers this evening, in particular for a new way of doing politics.
“It’s a huge privilege to welcome Jeremy Corbyn to Lancaster this evening.
“Whether people agree or disagree with his policies, he’s been know for his integrity and his decency.”
Lancaster University student Cat Finnerty spoke to the audience about new constituency boundaries, and the need for people to register their vote.
Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith said: “I know this won’t be the last visit to Lancaster. We want to make sure that those that couldn’t get in this time, can make it next time.
“Inclusive politics is going to include quite a lot of trips to Lancaster for Jeremy Corbyn.”