Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn gives his Labour vision in conference speech
- Credit: Getty Images
Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn used his first conference speech as Labour leader to send a message to voters: “You don’t have to take what you are given.”
Mr Corbyn rejected Conservative claims that there is “no alternative” to cuts in jobs, public services and the NHS, rising university fees and growing poverty. He told the party’s conference in Brighton today: “Our Labour Party says no.”
Just two weeks after being elected party leader in a landslide vote, Mr Corbyn, who was welcomed on stage by 18-year-old constituent Rohi Malik, declared that he would stand for “a kinder politics, a more caring society”.
And he dismissed Tory accusations that he is a threat to Britain’s security, insisting it is the Government which threatens the security of tenants in insecure rented homes, carers losing local government support, young people locked out of the housing market, families losing benefits and 2.8m households forced into debt by stagnant wages.
The veteran left-winger, 66, stuck to his guns on the renewal of Trident, declaring he did not believe that spending £100b on a new generation of nuclear weapons was “the right way forward”. And he confirmed plans to take railway services back into public ownership as franchises come up for renewal.
But he insisted that the party’s policies will be subject to a comprehensive review, with Labour members having “the final say” on what they should be. Unlike predecessors such as Tony Blair, he vowed that neither he, his shadow cabinet or Labour MPs would “impose policy or have a veto” on what the membership decides.
After coming under attack for his failure to sing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain commemoration, Mr Corbyn insisted that his political beliefs were driven by “shared majority British values” and his love of his country.
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And he said he wanted to harness the “political earthquake” which brought him into office this summer to build “a society for the majority” in Britain.
Mr Corbyn said the Conservative Government existed “to protect the few and tell all the rest of us to accept what what we’re given”, offering tax breaks to the hedge funds which have lavished donations on the Tories since David Cameron became leader, while “cutting jobs ...
slashing public services ... vandalising the NHS ... cutting junior doctors’ pay ... reducing care for the elderly ... destroying the hopes of young people for a college education or putting university graduates into massive debt ... putting half a million more people into poverty”.
“They want us to believe there is no alternative,” he said.
“They want the people of Britain to accept all of these things. They expect millions of people to work harder and longer for a lower quality of life.
“Our Labour Party says no.
“The British people never have to take what they are given. And certainly not when it comes from Cameron and Osborne.”
Mr Corbyn branded Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity programme as “the outdated and failed approach of the past”, which had left Britain “ill-prepared ... to face another crisis”.