Corbyn calls on by-election voters to back Labour and reject austerity

The Labour leader faces his toughest electoral challenge yet with two simultaneous by-elections in Stoke and Copeland next Thursday

Tom Peck@tompeck
Saturday 18 February 2017 02:34
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The Labour leader will address the party's local government conference in Warwick
The Labour leader will address the party's local government conference in Warwick

Jeremy Corbyn will tell voters in Stoke and Copeland to back Labour and rejecting Conservative austerity.

The Labour leader will address the party's local government conference in Warwick on Saturday morning, and attempt to reframe two crunch by-elections taking place next week around government failures in the NHS and social care.

The two by-elections, both forced by prominent Labour resignations, present a real test of Corbyn's leadership, with the party trailing by huge margins in the polls.

The Conservatives believe they can win Copeland, pulling off an extremely rare gain for a governing party over the opposition.

In Stoke, the party faces a challenge from Ukip's Paul Nuttall, over whom it is far more confident of victory.

In his speech, Mr Corbyn will ask voters to reject the politics of division, both from Ukip and the Tories.

"Ukip's politics of hate will not save children's centres. Hatred won't build homes. It won't create jobs, and it won't fund health and social care. It won't bring our people dignity or bring our communities together," he will say.

"But that's true of the Tories too. When politicians of the right have no solutions, they find a scapegoat. They try to divide and set people against each other.

"Voters have a chance to tell the Government that they've had enough of their damaging cuts to health and social care, and their disregard for human life and dignity.

"Our job, as the Labour Party, isn't to find a vulnerable community to blame. It is to unite people together to build a better world."

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