Election 2017: John McDonnell gives Ipswich Labour boost at town's May Day Festival
PUBLISHED: 16:08 30 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:53 30 April 2017
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell helped give Ipswich Labour Party a big boost at the start of the General Election as the star guest at the town's May Day Festival in Alexandra Park.
Mr McDonnell had accepted an invitation to attend the festival before the General Election was called – and came straight from an appearance on Robert Peston’s ITV show to join hundreds of party supporters and trades unionists at the annual event.
And despite the opinion polls suggesting that Labour is well behind the Conservatives at the start of the campaign, Mr McDonnell was in an upbeat mood.
He told the crowd that Conservative-led government of the last seven years had failed to fairly distribute wealth, pointing out that more than a million food parcels were handed out.
He was cheered when he said: “We have seen homelessness rocketing on a scale we have not seen since the Second World War.”
Mr McDonnell urged more young people to register to vote – promising that a Labour government would end university tuition fees and would replace student loans with grants.
“The Attlee Government created the National Health Service. We want to create a National Education Service for people from the cradle to the grave,” he said.
Mr McDonnell insisted that polls suggesting his party was well behind the Conservatives would prove to be inaccurate: “When you go on the doorsteps people are very happy to talk to us and like what we are saying. They have had enough of the Tories and are looking for hope.”
And he denied that the national leadership of the party was a problem for campaigners: “People like Jeremy Corbyn. They like his honesty and the fact that he believes what he says. They contrast that with the cliches and soundbites coming from the Tories,” he said.
As well as political speeches from Mr McDonnell and trade union leaders, there were a selection of bands on stages across the park.
There was a family funfair and stalls selling food and drink to keep the large crowd happy and refreshed before they get back to the serious job of campaigning for the general election over the next six weeks in one of the seats Labour needs to win if it is to form a government.
Sandy Martin favourite to fight Ipswich at general election for Labour
The leader of the Labour group on Suffolk County Council, Sandy Martin, is favourite to be the party’s candidate to fight Ipswich in next month’s general election.
The candidates for all seats in the region that are not currently held by the party are due to be announced on Tuesday after officials from the regional board of the party met to select who should stand over the bank holiday weekend.
Mr Martin emerged as favourite to fight the seat after Jane Basham pulled out of the battle after suffering a family tragedy.
He is leader of the Labour group on the county council and was on the list of candidates for the party in the 2014 elections for Members of the European Parliament.
He has lived in the town for many years and was a member of the Ipswich Borough Council executive before standing down from that authority to fight for the MEP seat three years ago.