Few set-piece events fall more squarely on a politician’s home turf than a manifesto launch, so standing ovations and hearty cheers from the audience are par for the course.
But this was still a confident launch from Corbyn, buoyed by a raucous crowd in perhaps one of his strongest performances of the campaign to date.
“This is a manifesto of hope. A manifesto that will bring real change,” Corbyn said at the outset of a speech that included broadside and confrontational attacks against Britain’s rich and powerful — groups from which he said he welcomed hostility.
Corbyn’s praise of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the US President whose New Deal programs brought the US out of the Great Depression, sought to elevate his plans from charges that they hark back to failed projects of the 1970s.
His domestic agenda, unveiled in full over the 107-page document, is one of the most radical manifestos unveiled by a major party at an election in recent memory. And the Labour leader was on surer footing than is often the case when discussion turned to Brexit, taking direct aim at Johnson’s promises to “get Brexit done.”
Corbyn achieved his short-term goal, giving news programs plenty of soundbites and clips that show him passionately announcing Labour’s plans to an adoring group of supporters.
But he will need his manifesto to do far more than that. In 2017, his pledges helped turn around a fledgling campaign and saw him skyrocket up opinion polls in the last two weeks of campaigning. If he is to repeat the surge, Corbyn will need a similar uptick this time, too, with Johnson enjoying a healthy polling lead and his Conservative Party promising increases in spending that go further than Theresa May and David Cameron’s campaigns ever did.
“You really can have this plan for real change because you don’t need money to buy it,” Corbyn told the audience. “You just need a vote – and your vote can be more powerful than all their wealth.”
Whether he will get enough to prevent a majority Conservative government is the crucial question of this election, and it won’t be answered yet. But the hope from Labour is that this week is the start of a turnaround.