Battle For York GE2017: Party Leaders Visit

York residents gathered in their hundreds to hear from Jeremy Corbyn on May 10th. The rally in St. Helen’s Square was one of the last before Labour’s Election Manifesto was leaked to the press the following day.

Corbyn gave his thanks to the former local MP Rachael Maskell, describing her as “someone who speaks up for and looks out for this City”, adding that he was “proud at what Rachael has achieved as an MP in a short time”.

Corbyn spoke of Maskell as a champion of environmental issues, an expert on both fracking and the technical aspects of flood river management.

"What I appreciated during York's Floods is that Rachael not only understood the trauma that everyone was going through, but she knew most of the people going through that trauma. That is the kind of MP York needs."
“What I appreciated during York’s Floods is that Rachael not only understood the trauma that everyone was going through, but she knew most of the people going through that trauma. That is the kind of MP York needs.”

Corbyn commented on Nestle’s announcement to axe 160 jobs in York, saying “I think chocolate should still be made here in York”. He did not commenting on how this might be affected by recent his decision to leave the Single Market and to raise Corporation Taxes.

Jeremy Corbyn said he would increase per pupil funding and received huge cheers for announcing he would introduce an Arts Pupil Premium, adding “Every child deserves the very best we can give them”, this would be a huge benefit for York Outer, who according to NUT Schools’ Week are the 2nd worst funded constituency in the UK under the national funding formula.

In an exclusive for Jayh Karia, reporting to Vision, Corbyn said “delayed mental health treatment and mental health advice services” were the areas of healthcare that students and young people in York are particularly effected by. He added:

Often delayed mental health treatment and mental health advice services. I’d improve mental health services in schools and colleges an have the parity of esteem in funding. There is a big problem lack of emergency beds and lack of community care, which means the only thing available left is pharmaceutical therapy, which means i’m not saying it should never be used but never should be the first point of call.

The current NHS Crisis is more serious, and deeply exacerbated by the social care crisis now feeding through into E&A departments and the hospitals themselves, they cannot leave hospitals because there’s no facilities for them to go to. I think that West Cumberland hospital needs to be maintained as it is and it tells us many people really care about the NHS.

Vision asked York Students at the rally how they rated it

Pictured: Izzy Wisher (left) and Sophie Jorgensen-Rideout (right)

Sophie Jorgensen-Rideout, 3rd Year Bioarcheology student said that she voted Labour in the last election and said that both Maskell and Corbyn  “were really positive they,  spoke really well and overall it was absolutely amazing.”

She added it was “so good, so much positivity” and that she “just felt so enthused by it”.

Jorgensen-Rideout focused particularly on his policy to reintroduce the Educational Maintenance Allowance, commenting “so many people back in my school relied on EMA for their learning, for bus tickets and stationary, fantastic to hear they’re trying to reintroduce that kind of thing.”

Pictured: Dan Sweeney

Dan Sweeney, Computer Science 2nd Year, and  Secretary of Socialist Society, before being rudely interrupted by and member of the SWP hoping to sell a copy of the socialist worker “I wanted to see Jeremy Corbyn get his support out”, later adding “there’s a lot of people here that support him and are inspired by what he says.”

Ben Rowden (Left) Elliot Banks (right)

Ben Rowden, 2nd Year History Student, was amazed at “just how many socialists have infiltrated the Labour Party,” he explained to Vision “the extreme left is clearly here in force, I mean you’ve got momentum here, the Socialist Workers Party, people chanting “Ban Trump”, all very anti democratic.” Rowden said of Corbyn “He supports a hard Brexit and clearly doesn’t speak for [York Central]. Rachael Maskell only voted remain to salvage her reputation in this city.”

Elliot Banks, 4th Year History Student, supported Rowden’s sentiments expressing his belief that “at the moment Rachael Maskell is diametrically opposed to her party and is not going to influence it on Brexit.”

Despite York Central being rated as a fairly safe seat, York has proven to be a key battleground in this snap General Election with visits from both the acting Prime Minister and Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. Theresa May visited York the previous day in the dark loading bay in the back of York Barbarian.

Theresa May in York (Courtesy of Minster FM)

York Vision, wasn’t given access, but University of York Student, Danni Boxall, a reporter for Minster FM, told York Vision it was “quite a busy event”  that was  “heavily managed”, the audience consisted of “candidates for Yorkshire and some local supporters and donors.”, Boxall added the Prime Minster herself “didn’t speak for very long,” and  “She answered three questions”. 

Boxall compared the two rallies to Vision, saying “It was a completely different atmosphere to Corbyn who had lots of people there, but then he didn’t take any questions. Corbyn was more of a rally, whereas May’s was more of a media event I would say.”

To get a chance to question both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May during this election, apply to be in the Question Time audience later this month.