FOR once, Jeremy Corbyn was surrounded by angels.
The chief comrade gave his first campaign speech in the oak-lined Assembly Hall of Church House, the headquarters of the Church of England, with stone angels peering down.
Around the circular room is a frieze with the words of a hymn: “Holy is the true light and passing wonderful, lending radiance to them that endured in the heat of the conflict.”
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I’m not sure if Jezza does God or seeks radiance but he might have got some inspiration from the words as we enter the heat of the electoral conflict to see who runs Britain on June 9.
After a tub-thumping Tory-bashing warm-up from shadow minister Ian Lavery, the chief comrade emerged to a hero’s welcome; there was a standing ovation, applause, whooping and shouting.
His pitch was true Trump or should that Bernie Sanders; the election, he insisted, was “the Establishment versus the people”. Mr C complained about a “rigged system,” that worked in favour of the “wealth extractors” and against ordinary folk.
It was noticeable how some of the audience were eyeing the media rows with undisclosed contempt as their hero included the Fourth Estate among those who needed to be taken on.
Indeed, when one reporter noted how Jezza had derided elites and asked about the “Islington elite,” she was shouted down and booed. One audience member shouted: “Go home!”
With the polls showing Labour a not inconsiderable 24 points behind the Tories, the hairy Leftie was obviously asked about the electoral Himalayan peak that stood before him.
With a wink and a smile, he referred to hoots of support about his bid for the Labour leadership: “In 2015, almost exactly two years ago, I was given 200 to one as an outside chance.” So there.
Labour colleague Dawn Butler, who was overseeing the Q&A, said how wonderful it was there was a politician who actually answered questions.
But when the chief comrade was asked about the rumour that he was considering half-inching the Liberal Democrats’ chief policy – having a second referendum on the final Brexit deal – he skilfully dodged the question. A hare will run.
But at least – Theresa May note – Mr C took questions from the Establishment media.
Asked about whether or not Labour under his leadership had become a tainted brand, Jezza invoked the memory of Keir Hardie, Jezza, who he said was vilified by the elite. He ended with a passionate flourish, declaring: “We’re bigger than we’ve ever been, we’re stronger than we’ve ever been and we’re more determined than we’ve ever been.”
After another standing ovation, Ms Butler chipped in and quipped: “June always marks the end of May.”