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At the East Sussex College event in the afternoon, Corbyn participated in discussions about the NHS and social care. Photo © Josie Barnes

Corbyn puts Amber on red alert

Jeremy Corbyn brought the fight with Amber Rudd close to home on Thursday (Jan 17) – putting Hastings in the media spotlight at packed meetings in St Mary’s in the Castle and later at Sussex Coast College. Labour Party member Rick Dillon shares his experience of the day.

Corbyn’s trip to Hastings showed that he prioritised Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate over a session haggling over a no-deal Brexit with Theresa May. He said that he was looking forward to Peter Chowney ousting Tory minister Amber Rudd from her Hastings & Rye seat (majority 346 votes).

And he gave an example of the latest of mean-spirited cuts by her Department for Work and Pensions.

Under cover of Brexit, the government has sneaked out a cut to older couples’ benefit entitlements. From this May, pension credit will only be available to couples where both people are over the state pension age. Previously, just one couple had to be a pensioner.

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Corbyn with local Labour party member Bill Stephens – Corbyn described him as “The most inspiring person I’ve ever met.” Photo © Josie Barnes

Corbyn told the St Mary’s in the Castle audience: “On Tuesday, when the country’s attention was fixed on Westminster … we had yet another demonstration of the harsh reality of what this government is about.

“The Department for Work and Pensions announced another cut to social security, which according to analysis by AGK, could leave some couples up to £7,000 a year worse off.

“Their latest cut will force yet more people onto the government’s cruel Universal Credit scheme. Couples where one spouse is not a pensioner will no longer be entitled to pension credit.

“So, just imagine this: if you’ve paid into the system all your life and you’re retired on a low income, and the government decides to make you poorer just because your partner is younger than you.

“That’s disgraceful, that’s wrong and that’s what happened on Tuesday while the rest of the nation was watching Parliament and what was going on there.

“How typical of the Tories. How typical of Amber Rudd. Whether they voted Leave or Remain people want an end to these injustices.”

Corbyn reiterated his position on Brexit – once again urging Theresa May to rule out no-deal before talks on Labour’s alternative of a jobs-first Brexit.

And he cut through the Brexit debate with this:

“Remember, the vast, vast majority of people don’t think of themselves as Remainers or Leavers… If we allow ourselves to be permanently divided on these artificial lines, it’s only the privileged elite who will benefit, while the majority lose out.”

He acknowledged that the government had survived “on the thin loyalty of Tory MPs”, but said Labour was determined to press for a deal with the European Union “on the three pillars we have put forward”.

But he added: “Our entire focus as a party is on the reality of people’s lives in this country: the poverty, the insecurity, the lack of investment, the fears and concerns for the future.

“Bring people together to create that better society and that better world. Have that relationship with Europe that gives us the customs union, gives us the trade agreement, that protects the rights, have that relationship that is positive and open.

“I want to live in a country that doesn’t rely on foodbanks, that doesn’t rely on payday loans, that doesn’t rely on loan sharks.

“I want to live in a country where people feel engaged and positive for the future. That’s the Labour way and that will be at the forefront of our minds during the next few weeks of crucial debate and voting in Parliament.

“Deliver a society that works for all – not just the few!”

The afternoon session at Sussex Coast College was for an invited audience of 200 people. The event focused on the NHS and social care, and attendees worked in groups of 10 to feed in their concerns about the NHS. The comments and ideas will inform Labour Party Policy.

Both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were early signatories to support the NHS Reinstatement Bill which aims to repeal the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and reverse the process of privatisation and disintegration of the NHS.

Posted 13:54 Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 In: Politics

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