A chorus of ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!’ rang out as hundreds turned out for a High Peak rally with the leader of the Labour Party.
Prior to the gathering outside the Royal Hotel in Hayfield on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Corbyn was taken on a tour of Cemex quarry in Dove Holes where he learned about the industry and its plans for the future.
Speaking to the Advertiser, Mr Corbyn expressed his concerns over cuts to schools and health services, and discussed his plans for the future including Brexit.
He praised High Peak MP Ruth George, who regained the seat for Labour in last year’s general election, and described her as “hard working and enthusiastic” for her constituents.
Mr Corbyn said he believed the tide was changing, as more people voted Labour in the last election.
“Young people never gave up on politics, politics gave up on them,” he explained. “We offered a change, we are challenging the manifesto of a depressing economy following eight years of cuts and people are realising its time for change.”
After hearing that schools in the High Peak were at financial breaking point because of austerity cuts, he vowed this would change should he be elected as Prime Minister.
“The current system is failing a generation,” he said. “I want to bring back free school meals for all primary school children because hungry children find it harder to learn, which just isn’t right.
“I know with the start of the summer holidays upon us some parents are feeling the horror of having to provide an extra meal for their children and are struggling financially, so we need to help parents there.
“Headteachers are completely aghast as they realise once again they will have to balance the balance the books and have fewer teachers and larger classes to meet the need.
“I want to introduce 30 free hours of childcare for two to four-year-olds and scrap college and university fees to give people a better chance at a full education from cradle to grave.”
On the subject of health, Mr Corbyn promised the NHS would get an annual cash injection of a five per cent increase to help meet the current deficit, with money being taken as a tax from big corporations.
The loss of older people’s mental health beds at Buxton’s Cavendish Hospital and a reduction in the number of rehabilitation beds was highlighted.
“Mental health is the biggest killer in the UK and one quarter of us will suffer some kind of mental health related issue throughout our lifetime, so we need to make sure the support is in place to help the most vulnerable in society,” he said.
Explaining how he would lead the country through Brexit, Mr Corbyn said he would properly engage with the European Union, but would not turn the UK into a tax haven. He said he would do all he could to protect the framework of trade and industry in the country.
Hundreds had waited patiently in the sunshine for the Labour leader to arrive in Hayfield, listening intently and cheering as he delivered a rousing 20-minute speech.
Mrs George later thanked him for making the journey to the High Peak, “seeing our great quarrying industry at Cemex, speaking so inspiringly at Hayfield, and giving your time to the many people who wanted to see you”.
“You’ve given such a boost to High Peak and such hope for a Labour future,” she added.
Speaking after the rally, Rachel Purchase commented: “It was really good to have him in High Peak and I agree with everything he has said. He has highlighted all the problems with the current government and why we need change.”
Ewan Jones said: “I found him very informative and I like that he focused on domestic issues which will impact on people living in the High Peak, such as talking about buses and cuts rather than focusing on foreign policies.” Jean Fildes said: “We waited so long for him as he was running late, but he was well worth the wait. I just hope he can get into Number 10 and deliver on everything he has said now.”
Pauline Di Chaira added: “I am concerned about what state the country will be in when he gets to power. He will be left with broken pieces of a country to pick up and mend.”