Jeremy Corbyn hits back after Labour attacks

11 June 2024, 15:29 | Updated: 11 June 2024, 18:06

Jeremy Corbyn has hit back at Labour attacks on his manifestos, saying they were "fully costed proposals that would have redistributed wealth and power".

The former Labour leader told Sky News he was "proud" of the offerings he put forward in 2017 and 2019, and he would continue to fight for those policies if he is re-elected as an independent MP.

It comes after Sir Keir Starmer compared Rishi Sunak's tax-cutting manifesto to the proposals put forward by his predecessor in 2019, saying there was no money for the prime minister's pledges.

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"It's a Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto, which is load everything into the wheelbarrow, don't provide the funding and hope that nobody notices," Sir Keir said.

That's despite Sir Keir being in Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet for the 2017 and 2019 elections, and endorsing both manifestos.

In response, Mr Corbyn said: "If our manifestos in 2017 and 2019 were implemented, energy companies wouldn't be making record profits while millions of people suffer in poverty.

"A billionaire wouldn't be purchasing Royal Mail. There wouldn't be raw sewage in our rivers and seas. 250,000 people wouldn't be homeless.

"We wouldn't be wasting public money on private health contracts. And we would be way ahead in the green investment that is needed to tackle the climate crisis."

He added: "These were fully costed proposals that would have redistributed wealth and power, and I was proud to stand alongside millions of voters and activists calling for this transformative change."

Mr Corbyn went on to say the "crises we face today are even more pressing and severe" than when he was Labour leader, "and they require a fundamental shake-up of our economic and political system".

He said that if he is re-elected as an MP, he "will continue to speak up for the real change that is needed to tackle the crises facing us all".

Mr Corbyn is standing to be an MP in the London constituency of Islington North, which he has represented for 40 years.

He is running to be an independent after he was barred from standing for Labour.

Mr Corbyn lost the Labour whip in 2020 following his response to a report into antisemitism within the party by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Mr Corbyn has previously said Sir Keir should not "diss" the party's 2019 manifesto, having served in his shadow cabinet between 2016 and 2020 and promoted the policies at the last general election.

Sir Keir himself said during his pitch to be Labour leader that "factionalism has to go" as he promised "not to trash the last four years" under Mr Corbyn.

Defending his change of tune, Sir Keir pointed to the historic defeat inflicted upon Labour when the nation last went to the polls.

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He said: "If you lose that badly, you don't look at the electorate and say 'What were you doing?', you look at your party and say 'You need to change'."

But allies of Mr Corbyn are angry about Sir Keir's remarks, which repeat a similar attack launched by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves in The Sun over the weekend.

Campaign group Momentum said Sir Keir knows the 2019 manifesto was fully costed but "instead he insists, inexplicably, on attacking his own side during an election and spreading misinformation in the process".

They said: "Perhaps what Keir doesn't like about 2019 Labour policies like public ownership and wealth taxes was that they offered real change, not just the illusion of it."

Meanwhile, Andrew Fisher, a former Labour adviser who helped write the last two manifestos, said The Tories' offering today included things like welfare cuts and tax cuts for landlords.

"For Sir Keir Starmer to describe that as a 'Corbyn-style manifesto' is an insult to Labour members and supporters", he said.

The full list of candidates in Islington North are:
Vikas Aggarwal, Lib Dems;
Karen Anne Harries, Conservatives;
Paul Dominic Josling, independent;
Jeremy Corbyn, independent;
Sheridan Kates, Greens;
Praful Nargund, Labour;
Martyn Nelson, Reform.