JEREMY Corbyn has urged activists to engage in “civilised debate” after ugly scenes at demonstrations outside the Conservative Party conference.
The Labour leader told supporters that people involved in politics should not engage in “personal abuse” as he addressed a protest rally attended by thousands in Manchester city centre.
His speech came after tens of thousands of activists marched through the city centre to protest about Government policies on the conference’s opening day.
The march, involving about 60,000 people, was largely peaceful but some activists spat at journalists entering the Manchester Central venue and police made four arrests.
Mr Corbyn said: “If we go into politics, we go into our union work, we go into our lives on the basis that what we say we hope is of value, what the other person says we hope is of value, and we engage in an intelligent, civilised debate, not responding to personal abuse and not making personal abuse.”
He also told the crowd: “The election victory of 2020 won’t be won in the three or four weeks leading up to that election day itself; it will be won by winning the ideas, the imagination, the hopes, the optimism, the brains, the hearts and minds of every ordinary person in this country.”
Mr Corbyn also accused the Tories of “bargain basement economics” and “destroying the work of unions of many decades.”
Earlier in the day the singer Charlotte Church apologised for the behaviour of those who spat at and abused journalists. She said: “I would never have called anybody scum. I think that it is fundamentally unhelpful in the issues we’re trying to talk about and name-calling is never a good thing.
“Whoever the person who got spat in the face, I’m sure it was a horrible experience, and I plan to write an open letter on behalf of the majority of people who were protesting that day just to say we are really sorry, this isn’t what it’s about, just to represent the rest of the people who were there.”