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Corbyn effect reaches Havering as Labour membership soars

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:19 01 October 2015

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers his first keynote speech on day three of the Labour Party annual conference. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers his first keynote speech on day three of the Labour Party annual conference. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

It seems the Corbyn effect has reached the Tory heartland of Havering, with a surge in Labour party membership since his leadership campaign started.

Pre-general election, Saffron House – the Romford constituency headquarters in South Street – wasn’t filling out for meetings. It holds 70 people.

But since the crushing defeat to the Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn’s win, bosses have had to find a new venue for them because of the amount of people turning up. Havering Young Labour has also been launched because of the amount of young people joining the party.

Sam Gould, who with 10,268 votes finished 15,000 behind Romford MP Andrew Rosindell in May’s election as Labour’s candidate – and, more significantly, 1,000 behind Ukip’s Gerard Batten – said numbers have “more than doubled” since the defeat.

“There seems to be a lot of young people joining,” said the 23-year-old. “When they fill in the forms we ask why they are joining and they are saying it’s because of Jeremy Corbyn.”

It’s a similar story in the party’s Hornchurch and Upminster headquarters. Cllr Keith Darvill, the only Labour councillor in the borough, said there has been a “significant boost” since the election.

“Before the election we had 240 members and now there’s well over 600,” said the former MP. “I respect the view of the majority who voted [for Jeremy Corbyn] and can understand it. People are disillusioned with politics and want something different.

“I’m hoping there will be a few people coming back. I’m very loyal to the party and welcome more people taking an interest. It means we can illustrate the problems we have with local government.”

One person who has come back is former Havering mayor Del Smith. He controversially left the party, along with three other councillors, in 1996, costing Labour its majority and has since moved to Scotland.

“The day after Jeremy Corbyn won I resigned from the Green Party and joined the Scottish Labour Party,” he said.

Those thinking about joining the party can attend an event at St Joseph’s Social Club, St Mary’s Lane, Upminster from 3-6pm on Saturday.

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