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9 December 2019updated 23 Jul 2021 9:30am

What is the point of Jeremy Corbyn holding rallies in safe seats?

By Ailbhe Rea

We’ve entered the last crucial 72 hours of the general election campaign, during which party leaders typically throw everything at their key target seats. So why on earth is Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Bristol West, where the current Labour majority is 37,000?

It isn’t, as Twitter conspiracists might suggest, a sign that Corbyn has utterly given up. The clue is to look not at Bristol West, but at nearby marginals such as Filton and Bradley Stoke. There was a swing of 15 per cent towards Labour there in 2017, narrowing the margin with the Conservative incumbent to just 4,190.

If Corbyn is to effectively target Filton and Bradley Stoke, one of the best ways is via local papers and local broadcast media, as well as clips on social media. Why didn’t he simply go to Filton and Bradley Stoke to do that? By holding the rally in Bristol West, Corbyn is able to speak to a larger crowd, create better social media clips, make it into the local papers at Filton and Bradley Stoke, as well as probably making it onto the top news slot on the local BBC and ITV news. And the joy of that is that the Corbyn rally will not only be on TV screens across Filton and Bradley Stoke, but also in other nearby marginals, like Kingswood, which was 41st on the Labour target list in 2015.  

So there is method in the apparent madness.

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