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By Pete Donohue

It came as little surprise that Jeremy Corbyn chose Hastings to launch a series of campaigning rallies around the country in preparation for the next General Election. Following Theresa May’s disastrous June snap election resulting in a hung Parliament this may not be too far away. Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, clung onto Hastings & Rye by a whisker as her majority was shaved from 4,796 to a precarious 346.

With such a surge in the Opposition’s popularity under his leadership Corbyn has once again taken to the road to meet the people and set out his vision for a future of ‘hope’ under a Labour government. Although the Hastings rally was only confirmed the day before, hundreds of supporters and potential supporters flocked into Warrior Square Gardens last Saturday for the 11 a.m. event.

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The atmosphere was electric as the crowd waited patiently, waving banners and placards with messages of support. Not long after eleven Corbyn arrived to tumultuous applause, cheers and whooping. First on stage was Jennie Formby, a UNITE official who sits on Labour’s NEC, with an introductory speech.

Next up was local teacher and Labour Party member, Louise Hersee, an active parent in the Save Castledown School campaign, who spoke passionately about devastating education cuts under the Conservative Government. HBC leader Peter Chowney, who so narrowly missed ousting Rudd to become Hastings MP, spoke next. He told the crowd how since joining the Labour Party in 1980 now was the time he felt most positive about its leadership.

Then the man who everyone had come to listen to stepped up. Corbyn’s speech delivered all the ingredients people have come to expect, including social injustice, “grotesque levels of profits”, unfair taxation, zero-hours contracts and an end to austerity. The crowd couldn’t get enough of it, cheering joyously when he told them:

“We put on more votes in the Labour Party in the (June) election than at any time since 1945.”

At the end of his speech Corbyn was in no rush to leave town, spending time meeting local campaigners, firefighters and other public service workers, shaking hands and having photographs with the local Hastings community. He did eventually have to move on to his next rally but not before securing his copy of the current Hastings Independent. Peter Chowney later told HIP:

“It was wonderful to see Jeremy in Hastings today. Another General Election soon seems inevitable, and he’s helped to put us on the path to winning Hastings and Rye for Labour.”

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In an interesting political twist to the day, minutes after Corbyn had been driven away, Amber Rudd suddenly appeared in the Lower Gardens. It seems the Home Secretary, the mere mention of whose name less than an hour ago had drawn loud boos from hundreds of her constituents, had come to judge the St Leonards dog show. It was a short lived affair however, and she was soon spirited away by Limousine leaving the public (and possibly the dogs too) baffled.

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