Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to “overturn the rigged system” by putting power and wealth back in the hands of “the people”. In his first major general election speech, he said 8 June’s poll was not a “foregone conclusion” and Labour could defy the “Establishment experts”.
A Labour government would not “play by their rules,” he added. Theresa May is hoping to convert the Tories’ double digit poll lead into a bigger Commons majority.
The prime minister says this will strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations and provide the “strong and stable leadership” the country needs. Her decision to hold a general election – after previously insisting she would wait until 2020 – took her rivals and many in her own party by surprise.
Mr Corbyn could have blocked it in Parliament but instead ordered his MPs to back the snap poll in a Commons vote on Wednesday. The Labour leader looks set to run an anti-establishment campaign, presenting himself as a champion of the powerless against political and business elites.
He attacked the “morally bankrupt” Conservatives who he said would not stand up to tax avoiders and other members of a “gilded elite,” who were extracting wealth “from the pockets of ordinary working people”.
Labour would “end this racket” and “overturn the rigged system,” he told an audience of Labour supporters in London.
He also said Labour was the only party that would “focus on the kind of country we want to have after Brexit” – dismissing Mrs May’s election campaign as an “ego trip about her own failing leadership”.
And he insisted all of Labour’s policies, including an increase in corporation tax for big business and more money for carers and a £10 an hour minimum wage, were fully costed. Addressing Labour’s poor opinion poll ratings, he said he was given a 200/1 chance of becoming Labour leader in 2015 and he defied those odds.
Assessing Corbyn’s speech: By Iain Watson
His message was uncompromising. Jeremy Corbyn attacked targets from what he called the ruling elite. In doing so, he was trying to recapture the energy and rhetoric which enabled him to win not one, but two, Labour leadership contests.