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Shared vision

Hundreds rally at LeftFest in support of Corbyn
Sean Cannon, Unite member and Southampton resident, Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

On a hot Saturday morning (July 23), hundreds gathered at a Southampton college to demonstrate their strong support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.


The second annual celebration of Left politics to be held in Britain’s premier port city, LeftFest was organised by the local Unite Community branch and was the brainchild of Mike Dukes, the branch’s outgoing chair. This year’s festival, just like the 2015 event, aimed to bring together campaigners, trade unionists and parties of the Left.


LeftFest was officially opened at 11am by the city’s mayor, Cllr Cathy McEwing, who also chairs a branch of Unite the union. The Southampton Red Stars Choir sang a selection of radical numbers, and dozens of stalls represented local organisations such as Southampton Momentum, CND, Palestine Solidarity and the People’s Assembly.


The Morning Star had one of the most popular stalls at the event – many people had never read the paper before and a large number said they planned to take out regular subscriptions.


As the festivalgoers enjoyed their lunchtime curry, an eclectic variety of bands, including local Irish group the Croppies, entertained the growing crowds, who also heard stirring speeches from Jennie Formby, Unite’s South East regional secretary and Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union.


As well as the strong Unite presence, the day was supported by the CWU and the NUT who also had stalls in the main hall.


During the afternoon, there were a number of songs destined to be included in a forthcoming theatrical performance about the Cuban revolution, Fidel the Musical. This was followed by Argentinian tango while, on the fringe, radical poetry was the order of the day. The events were rounded off just after 4pm with the Red Stars Choir leading a rousing rendition of the Red Flag.


When the festival was over,  event organiser Helen Field was pleased with how the day had gone.


“Last year, when we held the first LeftFest, David Cameron was prime minister,” she said. “Now, it’s Theresa May. When we hold LeftFest 3, I expect Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister of this country.”


Unite Community Southampton chair Glyn Oliver called the festival a “remarkable example of the Left working together in Southampton, as we have been doing all year.


“While we have our differences, we all share the vision of a socialist Britain and will continue to work together towards it.”





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