Corbyn ignites record May Day crowd with passionate speech

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was the guest speaker at Burnley’s annual May Day Festival.

Mr Corbyn was the first serving Labour leader to speak at the event, which has been held every year on May Day every year since the bank holiday was established in 1978.

Clarton Community Choir at the Townley Park May Day festival

Clarton Community Choir at the Townley Park May Day festival

The day began, as always with a union parade from Burnley Town Hall to Towneley Park where Mr Corbyn and other speakers included Burnley MP Julie Cooper, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw and Labour MEP Julie Ward.

Mr Corbyn spoke passionately in front of around 1,000 people on a range of issues including the economy, health and the current anti-Semitism row currently engulfing the party.

He told the Express: “I was pleased to be invited by Julie Cooper MP to speak at the fantastic May Day festival in Burnley.

“I believe I am the first sitting Labour leader to attend and this year there was a record breaking turnout and a great atmosphere.

The Tories’ austerity cuts are not of economic necessity but of political choice.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

“I also visited Rossendale where members are working hard to secure a good result in the local elections this Thursday.

“The Tories’ austerity cuts are not of economic necessity but of political choice. They have chosen to redistribute wealth to the wealthy.”

Speaking about the Panama Papers scandal he added that the “industrial scale of tax avoidance has got to stop. There is a moral lesson here.”

In reference to the recent junior doctors’ strike, he referred to them as “the lifeblood of the NHS, not the enemy.”

Mr Corbyn also commented on the Syrian refugee crisis adding: “There has got to be a humane response. We must reach out the hand of humanity.”

Peter Thorne, secretary of the NE Lancashire Trades Council, which organised the event, said: “It was a great honour to have Jeremy speak at the festival.

“There were around a thousand people listening to the speakers, and the applause for Jeremy went on and on.”

Burnley MP Julie Cooper said: “During one of my early conversations with Jeremy, shortly after the general election, I took the chance to extol the virtues of Burnley and Padiham and encouraged him to visit.”

The modern origin of the present bank holiday became associated with a day for international workers in 1890, when 300,000 workers chose the day to protest in Hyde Park in favour of an eight hour working day.