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UPDATED: Jeremy Corbyn at Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival

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7:38am 17th July 2017
(Updated 7:03am 18th July 2017)

Transport, health and education - these are the key issues facing Dorset right now according to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn spoke to Wessex FM just before addressing thousands of people at The Tolpuddle Martyrs festival yesterday.

He says rural communities should be given the chance to prosper:

"It's also about improving communications to more scatter remote areas, with the opportunity then of promoting small scale businesses and small scale industrial development as a way of spreading employment across the whole region."

The Labour leader also told us he will focus on reducing the size of classrooms across Dorset, should he become Prime Minister.

"I spoke to a teacher last night in Dorchester who told me she's very stressed as as of next year she has a class of 35, and she's worried how she is going to cope. It's unfair on the children."

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Meanwhile, Members of  West Dorset Constituency Labour Party (CLP) flew the flag in support of the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival on Sunday. They were joined by other Labour parties from the South West including Bournemouth, Poole, Exeter, Blandford, Bristol and Somerton, Wells and Glastonbury and Street.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival marks the occasion to commemorate the prosecution and transportation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs which led to the foundation of the trade union and Labour movement. Formed in an oath by Tolpuddle residents George Loveless and his five fellow workers – his brother James, James Hammett, James Brine, Thomas Standfield and Thomas's son John - the oath was sworn to protest against low wages that were not sustainable. The Tolpuddle six were arrested and sentenced to seven years' transportation from Dorchester Assizes.

The festival, jam-packed full of union members from across the UK - including some from Ireland - is held for one weekend a year.

Trade unions, including leading teaching unions NASUWT and NUT (National Union of Teachers), the UCU (Universities and Colleges Union) were present. Other occupations represented included railway workers unions such as ASLEF, (the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen), pensioners conventions, Filipino nurses and carers unions, the barge community, the Communications Workers Union and many more.

West Dorset CLP Chair Claudia Sorin said: “At this year’s festival the highlight really was Jeremy Corbyn. He spoke passionately about human rights, austerity, justice, educating our young people, environmental issues and inclusivity. He also spoke of gaining the support of millions of voters in the general election with a manifesto to transform the lives of the next generation, even speaking about introducing a new education policy which would allow every young person to learn a musical instrument.”

She continued: “Jeremy closed his speech with an apt poetry quotation from John Clare, a former farm worker himself, and promised to be ‘ready, able and very determined to fight for justice here and across the world.’”

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