Large crowds watch as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gives Sunderland speech

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Large crowds turned out to watch Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as he addressed the people of Sunderland today.

Mr Corbyn, who is currently locked in a battle for control of the party with rival Owen Smith, addressed a crowd on the vacant site of the former Crowtree Leisure Centre, with many of those present sporting 'Vote Corbyn' t-shirts, but there was also a small, vocal opposition.

Jeremy Corbyn visits Sunderland.

Jeremy Corbyn visits Sunderland.

Mr Corbyn, who appeared in the city on National Mackem Day, spoke about the north-south divide and how policies must be developed to benefit the North East in particular, especially after the recent overwhelming Brexit vote in areas such as Wearside, South Tyneside and Hartlepool.

"We need to put forward policies that will be good for our party and good for the people of this country and the North East," Mr Corbyn, whose father was born in East Boldon, said.

"It's about all of us. It's about bringing forward an political alternative.

"Last year we fought the leadership campaign to try and change the direction of the party.

Jeremy Corbyn visits Sunderland.

Jeremy Corbyn visits Sunderland.

"This year, it's to keep that direction of our party and also to make that change to every community all across Britain.

"A year ago we were a party that had sadly been been defeated in the general election. That general election result was a disaster for the people of this country, and in particular, poorer areas.

"The cuts to public expenditure go very deep and very wide. Local government has taken the biggest hit in all areas of public spending cuts ever since austerity came in.

"The Tories, somehow, tried to blame the poor for being poor, blame the public sector.

Jeremy Corbyn visits Sunderland.

Jeremy Corbyn visits Sunderland.

"Let's just think about this - the banking crisis of 2008 was not created by the nurses, street cleaners, doctors, hospital porters or anyone working in the public sector.

"It was created by the ill-regulated banking system. We bailed that banking system out.

"If you could look at a map of where the cuts have taken place in local government expenditure and, you, put a particular colour, shall we say red, over these areas, there would be red all over Sunderland, red all over the North East."

A number of speakers appeared at the event, including organiser Coun David Allan, Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson, who officially welcomed Mr Corbyn to to Wearside, Katheine Mason, of Penshaw Community Clothing Bank, and newly elected Unison regional secretary Claire Williams.

Jeremy Corbyn visits Sunderland.

Jeremy Corbyn visits Sunderland.

Mr Corbyn also talked about gender inequality in the workplace and health inequality, with people dying younger in poorer areas, adding: "Inequality is a poison, injustice is simply wrong."

He also said it was wrong to blame ethnic minorities or those not born in this country for a lack of housing, instead insisting the government is to blame, for favouring the rich.

Speaking to the Echo after the rally, Mr Corbyn said about the North East Brexit vote: "People voted for out for whatever reason, and we have to give them what they voted for.

"Many here are disillusioned with the government, with the lack of opportunity.

"I was speaking to a young man earlier, whose parents were skilled workers, his grandparents were skilled workers and he said what's in it for me?

"We need to listen to the grassroots, they voted out.

"It was not the result that I wanted, but out means out."