Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Messiah or Mistake.? Reviled or Revered, Jeremy Corbyn Continues to Defy the Critics with His Political Longevity. but Opinion Remains Polarised - Does He Practice the Politics of Division, or Is He the Leader Behind Whom Labour Must Unite. Mike Kelly Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Messiah or Mistake.? Reviled or Revered, Jeremy Corbyn Continues to Defy the Critics with His Political Longevity. but Opinion Remains Polarised - Does He Practice the Politics of Division, or Is He the Leader Behind Whom Labour Must Unite. Mike Kelly Reports

Article excerpt

AN event to back Jeremy Corbyn's bid to be re-elected as Labour leader this month is being staged at the Tyne Theatre in Newcastle.

The setting could not be more appropriate. It is just over a year since Corbyn made a triumphant appearance at the same theatre when Corbynmania was at its height.

It was staged in the run up to the Labour leadership election of 2015 when thousands turned out for a glimpse of the unlikely leadership favourite as his "politics of optimism" campaign continued to snowball.

So many wanted to see him, a spillover' event was held for those who couldn't get tickets into the theatre. In total, more than 2,000 people are thought to have turned out to see him.

Bearing in mind what has happened since, it is worth remembering what he told them.

He said: "What is great about this summer is that we are looking at the possibilities of what we can do, what we can do together, how we can make society different together.

"How we can make our party more representative, more democratic, more appropriate and more in touch with people's lives."

The 'Stand up for Labour' event is being held on September 19, five days before the result of this year's leadership contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith will be announced.

It will feature an array of performers including award-winning comedian Jeremy Hardy, while Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck will also be a speaker.

Organisers say it is being staged as "Jeremy Corbyn needs us now, more than ever. He has shown incredible courage in the face of attack against his new brand of straightforward, honest politics."

It says much that despite polls showing he is on course not only to win but increase his vote at the ballot, the party has never appeared so divided.

The huge support Corbyn boasts among the party's membership is in stark contrast to his backing within the Parliamentary Labour Party.

In June, more than three-quarters of Labour MPs - 172 - voted to show that they had no confidence in his leadership, which precipitated a leadership challenge, first by Angela Eagle, who later stood down for Smith.

Political expert Dr Martin Farr, of Newcastle University, said: "I remember the first event at the Tyne Theatre - like a great number of people I couldn't get in.

"That was the sign of an extraordinary phenomenon taking place and it has persisted which is unusual for such a thing."

And while last year Corbyn spoke of "looking at the possibilities of what we can do together", it's fair to Turn to Page 46 From Page 45 say Labour MPs haven't bought into this.

"Over the 12 months, the two positions have been entrenched," said Dr Farr. "The people who opposed him back then (for being unelectable) oppose him more strongly now as they believe there is evidence to back up their misgivings. …

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