Cambridge Corbyn meeting seeks new venue with greater capacity

corbyn_tredegar07:07 Monday 24th August 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: A visit by the Labour Leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn planned for tonight has had to be postponed. Police were concerned about the number of people who would be attending the event at Great St Mary’s Church. Almost 2,000 people had expressed an interest in turning up, and reports over the weekend suggested the event was being moved to Parker’s Piece. It had been billed as an opportunity for people to hear Jeremy put forward his case for Labour Leader, and the chance for them to get answers to questions for him. It’s understood that the number of rejected applications from people hoping to vote in the contest has risen to around 3,000. .. With me now our Political Correspondent Paul Rowley. What do you make then Paul of this cancellation of the event in Cambridge?

PAUL ROWLEY: Well it seems Dotty that Jeremy Corbyn now has the pulling power of One Direction clearly. You can’t get a ticket to see him. He was due to address this rally tonight in Cambridge, but because the venue only holds 1,200, even before the weekend 1,800 people had applied for tickets. Now they are free, but they’ve had to cancel it largely on safety grounds, because I think there were worried that too many people would turn up, and there could be a crush. There was a similar thing happening last week in Newcastle. Now I suppose there is a novelty factor that a lot of people might just want to see what all the fuss is about. But it does seem something’s going on here that surprised everybody, Jeremy Corbyn included, and I spoke to him at the start of this campaign when he was the 100-1 outsider. Now a month on we appear to have a surge in Corbyn-mania as it’s been described. .. And so, you know, here we have a hitherto low-key backbencher, 66 years old, never held public office in more than 30 years as an MP, suddenly he’s become the hottest ticket in town, well at least in Cambridge.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Absolutely, ands Cambridge is a newly Labour seat. Only went red at the most recent election.
PAUL ROWLEY: Yes. That’s the thing. And it’s interesting in so many ways. And I think because if nothing else he is different, and the other candidates, all of whom are seen as mainstream, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. Let’s be blunt about it Dotty, they’ve hardly set the campaign alight. And they could well take votes off one another, and that would help Jeremy Corbyn as well. If nothing else he has a distinctive agenda. He wants to take the rail network and some of the privatised industries back into public ownership. He wants to limit the power of media barons like Rupert Murdoch. He would scrap the proposed replacement for the Trident nuclear deterrent. Now some would say these are left wing policies. Others would say well, they’re actually mainstream ideas, which command the support of many voters in all parties. So there’s a phenomenon going on, and even though it’s August, we normally call this the silly season at Westminster because the House of Commons isn’t sitting, if nothing else Dotty you cannot say politics is boring at the moment.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Yes certainly made your summer a bit more lively Paul. We have heard these claims that people from other parties are trying to sign up as Labour members so that they can vote in this Leadership election. How widespread is that problem?
PAUL ROWLEY: I’m told around 3,000 people have been excluded. They are among 120,000 individuals who took advantage of a rule change which was introduced for the first time this election, where if you pay £3 you can become what’s called a ‘registered supporter’, rather than being a fully paid up party member. Now a lot of young people have signed up who haven’t been involved in politics before. Some former Labour supporters have also rejoined. But it’s quite clear that a number of Conservatives for example are trying to take advantage including a Tory MP, a Euro MP and a Member of the House of Lords who have been excluded. Others have been barred for having a record of supporting parties on the left, who want to see Jeremy Corbyn installed. But all told Dotty there could be as many as 600,000 people voting in this election. many have joined in recent weeks. It is proving rather hard to police. Indeed rather mischievously the online media company Buzzfeed has registered a cat called Ned who belongs to one of their reporters, and he’s been sent a ballot paper. He’s voted for Jeremy Corbyn, although as a result of bragging about it on their website, the vote will not count.
PAUL ROWLEY: And Ned won’t be getting his £3 back either I have to tell him, so he might have to cut back on his KiteKat this week.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Yes absolutely. So what do you reckon then Paul? Jeremy Corbyn, is he actually going to do it?
PAUL ROWLEY: It’s hard to tell. There’ve not been that many opinion polls on this. I think the only danger for him in a way, he might peak too early, because there has been so much focus on him and not the other candidates. But he’s faced a lot of criticism. Doesn’t seem to be doing him any harm though. People are saying he’s going to split the Party. There’s a warning there could be mass resignations of senior figures as there were in the early ’80s, when the Social Democratic Party was set up. Many think there could be another Leadership contest before the next election. The only thing I’ll say is that he’s started something here. And as I say even though it is August, you cannot say that politics is boring at the moment Dotty.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Yes. Paul Rowley there, our Political Correspondent.