The five words from Corbyn that shatter Johnson’s ‘people vs parliament’ slogan

Jeremy Corbyn GE2019 Campaign Launch Speech
John Ranson

The general election campaign is on. Boris Johnson’s team has long been trying to frame the vote as the ‘people vs parliament’. But Jeremy Corbyn is already blowing this framing out of the water, asking: “Whose side are you on?” And as he made clear, the choice couldn’t be more stark.

With a Corbyn-led government, “we all win”

In his speech in Battersea, Corbyn said that “real change is coming”. He made clear:

When Labour wins, the nurse wins, the pensioner wins, the student wins, the office worker wins, the engineer wins. We all win.

The Labour leader pointed out what everyone with the slightest awareness of real life has known for ages: that the Conservatives, with their disastrous austerity dogma, have had the UK’s handbrake well and truly jammed on since 2010. Corbyn said:

This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country, take on the vested interests holding people back and ensure that no community is left behind.

Labour, Corbyn promised, will end “the Conservatives’ great rip-off by putting rail, mail and water into public ownership so those vital services work for everyone, not just Tory donors and shareholders in tax havens. We will invest in every nation and region, rebuild our public services and give our NHS, schools and police the money they need by taxing those at the top to properly fund services for everyone”.

The few

And Corbyn was in the mood for taking names. He’s not content to talk vaguely of the elite as if it’s some unaccountable force of inevitability. No, these are people, a few obscenely wealthy people, using that wealth to exploit a rigged system. He singled out:

The dodgy landlords, like the Duke of Westminster, Britain’s youngest billionaire, who tried to evict whole blocks of flat where families live, to make way for luxury apartments.

The bad bosses like [Sports Direct boss] Mike Ashley, the billionaire who won’t pay his staff properly and is even running Newcastle United into the ground

The big polluters like [INEOS boss] Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man who makes his money by polluting the environment.

The greedy bankers like [hedge fund speculator] Crispin Odey, who makes millions betting against our country and, to show his generosity, has donated huge sums to Johnson and the Conservative Party.

The billionaire media barons like Rupert Murdoch, whose empire pumps out propaganda to support a rigged system.

The many

Corbyn said “the choice couldn’t be clearer”. Labour, he said, is on the side of the many:

We put our faith in the British people’s spirit and commitment to community. It’s your country. Labour will put wealth and power in the hands of the many.

We stand for the many. Boris Johnson’s born-to-rule Conservatives protect the privileged few. They’ve slashed taxes for the richest and vital services and support for everyone else.

And Corbyn praised the commitment of Labour’s grassroots supporters, who he said won’t be deterred by a winter election:

Labour will be out there in every city, town and every village with the biggest and most confident campaign that our country has ever, ever seen bringing a message of hope and change to every country and every community that makes up Britain. Even if the rivers freeze over, we’re going out to offer real change for the many not the few. All we need on those cold streets as we walk down them is the thought of removing Boris Johnson’s Conservatives from government – and the chance to rebuild and transform our country.

This is the most radical and exciting plan for real change ever put before the British electorate. Friends, the future is ours to make. Together, it is now time for real change.

This was a message of hope and a call to action. Corbyn has started as he means to go on, with a positive vision for the country. If 2017 is any guide, the manifesto will flesh this out with numerous popular policies. Then it’ll be up to us to make the choice for real change.

Featured image via screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. Mr Corbyn’s televised ‘speech’ was a master-work because it was not political speech in the current sense.

      There was no attempt to harangue. No bombast. No whipping up crude emotion. No flights of rhetorical fancy. Corbyn’s exposition was conversational. He calmly stated his points with supporting reasoning. The whole cohered. His responses to questions posed by news media representatives were thoughtful; the answers were not stock prepared ‘sound bites’. Also, the questions were answered rather than being used as pretext for point scoring.

      This approach is immensely important; would that other prominent Labour figures and constituency candidates emulate it. Reason being that the forthcoming general election is being slated as the most vicious and dirty within living memory. As the campaign proceeds, calm voices, refusal to engage in trite political mud slinging, admission of fallibility in the sense that difficult matters cannot always be dealt with using predetermined off-the-shelf solutions, add up to the voice of reason against a cacophony of empty bombast, cheap jibes, superficial attempts at bribing the electorate, and foolish prognostications about dangers arising from socialism.

      If Mr Corbyn and Johnson come head to head in debate, Johnson shall acquit himself badly. Johnson’s parliamentary performances as minister and now prime minister indicate he does not think well on his feet. His muddle becomes obvious when he is unable to deflect questions and attempts to cover up with hectoring and cocktail party witticisms.

      Labour’s task is to lay out truths about how ‘austerity’ was unnecessary and to offer plausible remedies. Johnson’s attempts to present the USA as exemplar of a thriving modern economy are readily countered by a host of statistics and visual presentations demonstrating the plight of ordinary Americans vis a vis rotting infrastructure, poisoned water and food, family debt in an economy where wages have stagnated for decades, student debt, inefficiently delivered hospital health services, vestigial public health provision, the burden of out of control military expenditure, and the economy as a whole barely meeting interest payments on national debt.

      Easily dismissed are Conservative electoral offers to improve this and that regarding health services, welfare, education, transport, and public utilities: simply ask why were not these ‘good ideas’ implemented during the lengthy period of Conservative government; conversion on the road to Damascus simply will not wash.

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