Vidya Ram

Labour leader kicks off campaign with attack on ‘rigged system’

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 15, 2018

Corbyn says Labour Party will stand for the majority of Britons

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to run a campaign for “working people” in an election that pitted “the Establishment” against the “people.”

His passionate speech, the first formal one of the electoral campaign, highlighted the huge ideological divide at the heart of the surprise snap election due to take place on June 8.

During the speech Corbyn repeatedly took pot shots at what he described as the “establishment” — the elite, the City, tax dodgers and much of the media — who believed that electoral success was only possible if their rules were played by.

“I don’t play by their rules and if a Labour government is elected on 8 June we won’t play by their rules either,” he said to loud cheers from the audience gathered in Westminster on Thursday afternoon.

Corbyn said that his party would stand up for the majority of people in the country. “The British people know they are held back…by a system rigged for the wealth extractors,” he said.

Policy issues

He pointed to a number of the party’s specific policies on raising the minimum wage, free school meals for children, pumping more into the education and health systems, and ensuring that corporations paid their full share of tax.

He highlighted inequality, homelessness, and the stresses on the NHS as some of the issues that the party would be focusing on.

“We have a government that is far too ready to negotiate with very big companies about the level of tax they will pay…We want the full tax return of medium and large corporations to be published so everyone can see what is going on.”

While recent polls have given the Conservatives a clear lead over Labour, Corbyn was defiant — in response to media questions — about the party’s ability to woo voters up and down the country.

“Anyone who stands up to create a fairer, more decent society gets vilified…we are bigger than we’ve ever been, we’re stronger than we’ve ever been, we’re more determined than we’d ever been,” he said, pointing out that 2,500 people had joined the party in the last 24 hours.

“Much of the media and the establishment are saying this election is a forgone conclusion….they think there are rules of politics…They are yesterday’s rules set by failed corporate elites that we should be consigned to the past.”

Brexit missing

Corbyn, however, largely avoided mention of Brexit: including a question by a journalist on whether he would back a second referendum on the EU deal.

According to the latest poll by YouGov, conducted after the announcement of the snap election, 48 per cent would vote in favour of the Conservatives, against 24 per cent for Labour and 12 per cent for the Liberal Democrats.

The same poll found that 54 per cent favoured Prime Minister Theresa May, and 15 per cent . Corbyn.

A number of Labour MPs have announced plans to step down, including Alan Johnson, a former home secretary, and Tom Blenkinsop, the MP for the north east constituency of Middlesborough South, who cited “significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership.”

Aside from ideological differences, some within his party have been critical of Corbyn’s failure to position himself clearly against leaving the single market, leaving the Liberal Democrats as the main party campaigning against a “Hard Brexit”.

One former Labour MP, Bob Marshall-Andrews announced plans to defect to the Liberal Democrats.

Published on April 20, 2017

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