Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed a crowd of hundreds when he visited Pendle as part of a nationwide tour of marginal constituencies.
First stop for the charismatic MP was the Jamia Sultania Mosque in Brierfield where local councillors, community leaders and worshippers welcomed him, before he headed to Victoria Park in Nelson where he spoke from the bandstand to hundreds of Labour supporters.
In a scene reminiscent of his famous Glastonbury Festival speech earlier this year, Mr Corbyn drew loud cheers from the crowd as he outlined his vision for the future under a Labour Government with a rousing speech.
Earlier, Mr Corbyn had chatted to local women at the mosque in Brierfield where he was welcomed by Lancashire County Coun. Azhar Ali and Pendle Borough Council leader Coun. Mohammed Iqbal.
As has become custom at such events, Mr Corbyn was mobbed by supporters at both venues with many clambering to take a “selfie” with the Islington MP. He later met foodbank volunteers in Barnoldswick.
At the mosque, the Labour leader had spoken out against racism and the rise of Islamophobia, telling those gathered there that “Islam is a religion of peace” and that we should not confuse nationality and ethnicity with criminality.
Speaking to the Leader Times about June’s General Election, Mr Corbyn praised the efforts of Pendle Labour candidate Wayne Blackburn in closing the gap on incumbent MP Andrew Stephenson, an effort which had now confirmed Pendle as a marginal constituency.
Speaking at the park, Mr Corbyn drew huge applause when he addressed a range of issues from education, to inequality, the economy and health.
He said: “Our society can no longer afford inequality. It holds us back. The North-West is one of the areas where the least public investment is made - Labour wants it to get a fair crack at funding,” adding that the so-called Northern Powerhouse concept “disappeared on June 9th” after the election.
He again proposed his idea for a national investment bank, which he said would recognise the lack of investment in northern towns.
The Labour leader also criticised the Tories and “their new-found friends in the DUP” for voting to keep the public sector pay cap.
Mr Corbyn also spoke passionately about education saying: “Our children have one shot at education. We want to offer free childcare.
“Primary schools should no longer have oversized classes. They should be properly regulated. And we’ll make sure there is a free school meal every day for every child.
“Let their creativity and imagination flow. We’d have a pupil arts premium so every child can have the chance to learn an instrument.
“It’s not my place to take away free education places for the next generation. We’d bring back the education maintenance allowance, end college and university fees.”
Mr Corbyn admitted that such spending had to be costed and again repeated that Corporation Tax should be raised, not lowered for the very largest businesses.
He also attacked the Government’s handling of the NHS saying it was at great risk from privatisation, the franchising out of services and of a growing crisis in the social care sector.
He said: “Our health services are the most precious things we have. The NHS is under threat from pay freezes, privatisation, franchising and the crisis of mental health.
“People need the care they deserve. People can’t access social care so they’re giving up work to care for those who are ill. If you get dementia, the NHS is not there for you as the work is mainly down to social support workers but that’s not always there.
“We need to end the stigma of mental illness and support young people going through school and college to make sure there’s more than a six-month wait for therapy when you go to the GP.
“It’s our duty to care for everyone in our community.”
Finally, Mr Corbyn criticised US President Donald Trump for his decision to pull America out of the Paris Climate Accord Agreement.
He said: “We need a government that will say ‘sorry Mr Trump, you are wrong about the Paris Climate Accord.’ We need to stand up for the whole planet.”