Islington MP Corbyn celebrates 40th anniversary with rally

Jeremy Corbyn was first elected to parliament in 1983 for Labour

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Islington north MP Jeremy Corbyn at February's Turkey and Syria Earthquake vigil in Islington
Islington north MP Jeremy Corbyn at February’s Turkey and Syria Earthquake vigil in Islington Photo: Julia Gregory/LRDS

Jeremy Corbyn criticised the “profit and greed crisis” which forces councils to negotiate with developers over the number of social homes in new developments.

The Islington North MP celebrated his 40th anniversary in Westminster with a rally at Highbury Fields.

He told an audience of several hundred how it was important to build “solidarity” whilst campaigning.

He was first elected to parliament in 1983 for Labour and was previously a councillor in Haringey when he was first elected in 1974, aged 24.

Mr Corbyn became the surprise Labour party leader in 2015, defeating frontbenchers in the election but was later suspended by the party over the investigation into anti-semitism.

Mr Corbyn said anti-semitism is abhorrent but Keir Starmer said he had downplayed the issue.

This March the national Labour party blocked him from standing as the party’s candidate for any future elections, a move which has caused some upset in the local party.

One Labour councillor Matt Nathan became an independent after the move.

Mr Corbyn responded: “I am as determined as ever to campaign alongside my community for a more equal, sustainable and peaceful world.”

He told his anniversary rally that change can happen.

“Our job is to unite people, our job is to give people hope. I’m full of hope over what can be achieved.”

He added: “When we fight back against racism in any form in our world, fight back against any discrimination, we embolden those in other parts of the world fighting back.”

Mr Corbyn spoke about his years of campaigning as an MP at the event at Highbury Fields.

He added: “It’s about our local communities – around here the battle we had to build community centres, to get parks, to save services, to try and stop the government from destroying our local council by underfunding of it. The campaign that we mounted to defend the Whittington hospital when we discovered that the accident and emergency department was due to close.”

He recalled how he was “mistakenly sent an internal email to ask my views on closing an A&E department.”

He said that he discovered the 2010 plans when he got the misplaced email. “They thought I was Dr Corbyn from the pathology department, that’s how I found out about it.”

“We mounted a magnificant campaign, 5,000 people marched along Holloway Road. The A&E department was saved, the Whittington Hospital was saved and it’s our hospital.”

The independent MP said: “I’m fed up with defending everything. I’m fed up with defending services. I don’t want to fight just to defend the NHS.”

He called for a “national care service” to help people with social care and said the “service is inadequate” and there was not enough access to it.

Mr Corbyn also spoke about the housing crisis and how junior doctors are forced to share flats because “they can’t afford to rent a flat of their own because the rents are so high”.

He praised Islington Council’s efforts to build more social homes.

He said it “does everything it can to build all the council housing it can. Well done Islington, full support to them in building council housing. But every site we develop is a negotiation with a private sector developer to find out how many social rented properties we can get out of it.”

He added: “We have a housing crisis, we have a homelessness crisis and we have a profit and greed crisis brought about by government that basically empowers the developers and the speculators over local authorities and social housing provision.”

He said the effect of overcrowded housing puts stress on families.

“We start discriminating on the poorest working class families from birth. We need housing as a right, not as a profit centre for those who want to get money out of them.”

He added: “It’s been my pleasure and pride to represent this community.”

However he kept everyone guessing about whether he would run for office again.

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