LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn said his government would “improve public services” for Dorset at an impassioned Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival.

Hundreds of people turned out for the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs rally on Sunday to celebrate the history of the trade union movement – and to see Mr Corbyn in action.

PICTURES: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn comes to Bournemouth

Mr Corbyn said that a Labour government led by him would “improve public services, particularly bus services” in Dorset and “properly fund our education services” so as to help get rid of the “supersized classes” teachers currently have to deal with.

He said that he recently spoke with a teacher in Dorchester who he said was “stressed because she is dealing with a class size of 35 and wondering how she is going to cope.”

Mr Corbyn added that his government would not just bring better transport and education services to Dorset, it would also focus on supporting the more remote areas in the county.

He also responded to the comment made by Vince Cable at a Westminster lunch last Thursday, that a large share of the Brexit vote was down to older people in church halls in places like Dorset who are “obsessed with immigrants.”

Mr Corbyn said: “I’m not quite sure how he knows that.”

He added that people made the decision to leave the EU last year and that his priority was to “make sure we have tariff-free trade access” to the EU’s member states.

Before the procession began at 2pm, Mr Corbyn along with trade unionists laid down wreathes at the grave of one of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, James Hammett, at St John’s Church to commemorate the martyrs’ historic sacrifice for worker’s rights.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of six farm labourers who decided to form a union in response to repeated cuts to their pay in the 1830s.

They were arrested and sentenced to seven years’ transportation in Australia for taking an oath of secrecy – however, this sparked huge protests which eventually brought about their release.

Mr Corbyn said: “I say thank you to those six and their families. We forget our history at our peril.”

Shakira Martin, president of the NUS, said that the day was a great day to learn more about the trade union movement.

She added: “I am really humbled by the number of people who have come today.” 

Labour councillor Ben Bellamy, 44, from Belper in Derbyshire, travelled 250 miles with his wife and two daughters to take part.

He said: “It’s to celebrate the sacrifice our forefathers gave to us.”

Hundreds of people sat outside the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum on the grass to listen to live music played by bands and soloists such as The Wakes.

Unions including the National Union of Teachers, TUC, ASLEF, Unite and Unison all had members attending the event.

Jerry Crowley, Devon’s PCS secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “It is fantastic to see so many people congregating here, marking a very important event in trade union history.”

Speaking alongside Jeremy Corbyn at the rally were South West TUC Regional Secretary Nigel Costley and TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.