Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn spelled out his party’s three-pronged approach to saving the NHS when he visited Sleaford today (Sunday).
He was visiting the town in support of the party’s local candidate Jim Clarke, who is standing in the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election on December 8 after the resignation of Tory MP Stephen Phillips.
Mr Corbyn expressed his surprise at Mr Phillips’ stepping down but dismissed claims by other parties that it could be a two-horse race between the Conservatives and UKIP in who would represent the 62 per cent of the constituency who voted for Brexit at the referendum saying he would be fighting to ensure the public do not lose out.
He also dismissed the suggestion that Jim Clarke’s campaign chances may have been harmed by the party’s public infighting and division since the referendum. He said he was elected in 2015 and re-elected after the leadership challenge with a greater majority.
He said: “We now have the largest party membership ever in my memory. It is an enormous advantage to us and we have people determined to change society for the better. It is my job to represent those people in their collective and continued aspirations.”
Speaking from a tree stump at a rally in front of over 100 supporters in Boston Road Recreation Ground this afternoon, he said on fighting for a fairer deal for Lincolnshire, it was about improving broadband connectivity for businesses and improving railway services in the county while saying that the closure of Grantham Hospital’s A and E at nights was an example of how they were campaigning to defend the health services under threat across the country.
He was calling for an NHS Campaigning Day of events next Saturday where campaigners would be raising awareness in 500 towns and cities up and down the country of the issues surrounding cutting, privatising and selling off the NHS. He said hospitals, doctors and pharmacies and social care needed to be better funded and delays in treatment of mental health also had to end.
He said they were reaching out to the rural communities to address hidden poverty. “Just because you cannot see poverty hidden behind those hedges it does not mean there is not a lack of bus services that means you cannot get around, it does not mean that the cuts in public services don’t affect you as well, so we are developing our policies from the bottom up,” he said.
“We want to support agricultural workers and the agricultural industry, we want sustainable agriculture in this country, we want decent rural bus services and decent rural and small town housing for everybody.”
Mr Corbyn then went with Mr Clarke to talk to voters on the doorsteps.
Mr Clarke said it had been a fantastic turn out: “It is nice to see so many local Labour party supporters showing support for their party and their leader,” he said.
“It is nice to have the support of the leader of the Labour party in my campaign. Why not stand up for the community, we do not want to be left behind.”
There are ten candidates declared as standing in the by-election. They are: Dr Caroline Johnson (Cons), Jim Clarke (Lab), Ross Pepper (Lib Dem), Victoria Ayling (UKIP), Marianne Overton (Lincs Ind), Mark Suffield (Ind), Paul Coyne (Ind), Sarah Stock (Ind), Peter E Hill (Official Monster Raving Loony Party), David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis Party).