Saturday 20 October 2018

Labour is now a government in waiting, claims upbeat Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is optimistic about Labour's prospects Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Jeremy Corbyn is optimistic about Labour's prospects Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

David Hughes

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has suggested in his New Year message that his party is "staking out the new centre ground" in British politics and that he is leading a "government in waiting". He insisted: "The old political consensus is finished."

In her New Year message, British Prime Minister Theresa May said 2018 would bring "renewed confidence and pride" to Britain as she sought to heal Brexit divisions and draw a line under a tumultuous 12 months.

She used her message to hail the "good progress" made in the Brexit negotiations, but also made clear that the EU withdrawal was "not the limit of our ambitions".

In his video message, Mr Corbyn said the UK was being "held back by a self-serving elite, who look after themselves and their friends".

He continued: "I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year.

"Ours is a fantastic country - full of wonderful, caring and talented people, with the hope of a great future ahead of us, where we all share in the wealth we create."

Highlighting last year's general election - where Labour did much better than many commentators had predicted - Mr Corbyn said "the establishment" had "no idea" how to fix the "broken system".

He continued: "In 2017, we said, 'No more.' There is an alternative and millions joined our cause in the general election. And now the establishment's secret is out: they're not as strong as they appear. Let's face it, they have no idea how to fix their broken system or upgrade our stagnant economy.

"In 2018, Labour's mission is to give our people support and security and use their talents, unleash their creativity and fulfil their hopes."

In an attack on Mrs May and the Conservatives, Mr Corbyn described her government as "weak and divided" and "stuck in an outdated rut".

"We are a government in waiting," said Mr Corbyn.

"The hope of a new Britain, run in the interests of the many, not the few, is closer than ever before. Together, we can, and we will, deliver it."

Mr Corbyn also said that it was a "moral imperative" for people to pay their "fair share" of tax as he warned that vital public services were threatened by a lack of resources.

The Labour leader said his message to the middle classes was that they too would need the NHS and so they must be prepared to fund it.

The government was "hanging on by a thread" and his party was ready for another election - but Mr Corbyn also acknowledged: "We must do more to broaden our appeal."

In an interview with the 'Sunday Mirror', he defended Labour's plans to hike income tax for the wealthy.

"We must all pay our fair share," he said, adding: "There is a moral imperative. We will raise tax at the top end in order to invest for the rest of society. I want to lead a Labour government that will do that."

At the general election, Labour set out plans for the threshold at which people start paying the 45p rate of income tax to be reduced to £80,000 (€90,000) from £150,000, with a new 50p rate for people earning more than £123,000.

Explaining why extra funding was required, Mr Corbyn said: "I do say to the middle classes and the well-off one day you will be ill. You'll need the NHS.

"And your kids may not be able to buy a house. They're not going to get a council place because they're not in desperate need.

Taxes

"Think about it. Are we a society that houses everybody? Or are we going to be a society that is the lowest-paid, worst-housed, most indebted country in Europe? Because that's where we are heading at the moment."

Mr Corbyn also said it was "incredibly reprehensible" to attempt to dodge taxes by putting money in offshore havens.

Labour was "ready to have an election at any point" if Theresa May's administration collapsed and its leader was "relishing the opportunity to campaign across the country with our message of hope".

Mr Corbyn said Labour had to build on its progress in last June's election.

He concluded: "Winning 13 million votes was a great achievement, but there is more convincing to be done."

Irish Independent

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