Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign launch this morning was eagerly awaited by some, with trepidation by others – and it’s without question that some in the media will have been preparing what they thought were their most damaging and tricky questions for the Q&A to follow his speech.
Those in trepidation needn’t have worried – unless they were Tories and their allies. Corbyn was in his element and Theresa May’s ill-advised and fear-driven decision to call a General Election has forced the media to actually let Corbyn speak and to let his message out past their usual filters to a far higher degree than they would usually allow.
And every time he speaks or even just appears, it becomes clearer why May daren’t debate him – and what she saw this morning will have her terrified, in spite of the best efforts of Establishment commentators to pour water on it afterward.
Corbyn’s speech was rousing, fiery and utterly authentic. The full speech is available below as an audio file and transcript, but first a few excerpts and a short video clip to give you a flavour of what was a masterful performance that will appeal to everyone – except of course the Establishment.
Except he was being rather than performing, which is what will so terrify May and her allies:
It’s our job to make sure the people prevail
They think there are rules in politics which, if you don’t follow by doffing your cap, then you can’t win. They don’t want us to win because when we win it’s the people who win, not the powerful… WE all win.
We can’t win, they say, when we don’t play their game. We don’t fit in their club.. we don’t accept that it’s natural for Britain to be governed by a ruling elite.. we don’t accept that the British people just have to take what they’re given.
They’re right, I don’t play by their rules and if a lab govt is elected on the 8th of June we won’t play by their rules either. They are yesterday’s rules set by a political and corporate elite.. it’s a rigged system set up by the wealth extractors FOR the wealth extractors
Britain needs a Labour government.. that isn’t scared to take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves. It needs a government that isn’t afraid to invest.. to build a better future for everybody who lives here
The Conservatives, drunk on a failed ideology, are hell-bent on cutting every public service they can get their hands on and they will use all the divide and conquer tactics of the Lynton Crosby trade to keep their rigged system intact.
Don’t be angry at the privatisers profiting from our public services, they whisper, be angry instead at the migrant worker just trying to make a better life. Don’t be angry at the government ministers running down our schools and hospitals, they tell us, be angry instead at the disabled woman or the unemployed man. It is the rigged economy the Tories are protecting that Labour is committed to challenging..
We will not let the elite extract wealth from the pockets of ordinary working people any longer..
If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green, I’d be worried about a Labour government, I really would..
We will focus on giving people real control over their own lives and make sure that everyone reaps a just reward for the work they do. We will no longer allow those at the top to leech off those who bust their guts on zero hours contracts or those who make sacrifices to pay their mortgage or pay their rent.
Powerful, stirring words – but even more impressive was how he handled the predictably inane questions from the media that followed his speech:
To Laura Kuenssberg’s question on whether the public will find him credible, he was calm, clear – and turned the tables to expose the myth of Tory ‘economic competence’:
This is an opportunity to get our message out, of hope and opportunity.. that you don’t have to be waiting forever for a hospital appt or an operation and you do have a chance of some security when you’re older. And so our policies will reach out to deal with the issues of social injustice and inequality in our society.
In that reaching out we’ll include a lot of people (small business, carers, children (free school meals together, basis of a strong society). Our plans will be fully costed and yes, at the very top end we won’t be cutting corporation tax which is what this Tory govt is doing are doing. We won’t be handing back £70bn..to the very wealthiest in this country.
This government has got us more into debt than all of the other Labour govts combined in British history in order to cut services and give tax giveaways at the top end – our priorities are absolutely the other way round.
To the frankly ridiculous, tired old trope about being part of an ‘Islington elite’:
As to your very helpful question about the elites – I am very proud to be theMP for Islington North. And it’s absolutely true there are people in Islington who buy and drink cappucino every day – but it’s also true there are 40% of our people in poverty.. there are people sleeping on the streets. So don’t run away with this idea that everyone who’s living in london is living the life of Reilly and is very wealthy.
To the inevitable question on Brexit:
The idea that you can simply approach these negotiations by threatening to set up a tax haven and hell take the hindmost is simply not a sensible way of negotiating
We want to work with Europe. We respect, accept the result of the referendum but there still has to be an economic relationship with Europe and we’re not gonna tear up the workers’ rights agenda, the environmental protection agenda or any human rights agenda. The idea that Labour is somehow or other, as you so kindly describe it, a tainted brand – there are people in the audience wearing badges with Keir Hardie, he was vilifiedbeyond belief when he was elected as the first ever Labour MP.. anyone who stands up to create a better, fairer, more decent society gets vilified.. – but I tell you what, we’re bigger than we’ve ever been, we’re stronger than we’ve ever been – and we’re more determined than we’ve ever been.
Corbyn actually answered the questions – and he did so, to these and other questions, in clear, concise, everyday language. He also did so in a way that clearly put the journalists in their place for their inanities – but with humour and kindness. There was no edge of offence to his responses – and he looked better, and the journalists worse, for it.
Corbyn ‘pwned‘ the media when they tried to take the shine off his speech – and he did it kindly. It’s a trick May could never manage in a month of launch-days. Here’s a short video of Corbyn’s response to a trite question about Labour’s ‘tainted brand’ (which in itself speaks volumes about the Establishment worldview) that will show you even better than the words on a screen can convey how well he did it:
— Ben Claimant 💚 (@imajsaclaimant) April 20, 2017
Some commentators, predictably, tried to dismiss a brilliant performance – no, a brilliant being – as a ‘comfort blanket’, or to mock his reference to Keir Hardie as if the point wasn’t perfectly plain even to those who might not have heard of him. But other media acknowledged the stark contrast with May’s style and campaign, hinting at how the public will receive them:
Corbyn launches his campaign with attack on elites and establishment. May launched hers dropping into a golf club in a helicopter.
— Jessica Elgot is on maternity leave 👶🏻 (@jessicaelgot) April 20, 2017
Corbyn’s informal campaign was also quick to highlight his superb answer to an attempt to write off his chances because of supposed polling gaps:
Q on polling. Corbyn reminds us the odds against him being where he is now were set at 200/1 #election2017
— For The Many (@ForTheMany2020) April 20, 2017
In short, Corbyn owned his launch and pwned the media that tried to trip him up – and he ‘did it like a boss’. No wonder at all that Theresa May daren’t face him – and her anxiety will now be spreading.
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The dividing lines in this election could not be clearer from the outset. It is the Conservatives, the party of privilege and the richest, versus the Labour Party, the party that is standing up for working people to improve the lives of all.
It is the establishment versus the people and it is our historic duty to make sure that the people prevail. A duty for all of us here today, the duty of every Labour MP, a duty for our half a million members – including the 2,500 who have joined in the last 24 hours.
Much of the media and establishment are saying that this election is a foregone conclusion. They think there are rules in politics, which if you don’t follow by doffing your cap to powerful people, accepting that things can’t really change, then you can’t win. But of course, they do not want us to win. Because when we win it is the people, not the powerful, who win.
The nurse, the teacher, the small trader, the carer, the builder, the office worker, the student, the carer win. We all win.
It is the establishment that complains I don’t play the rules: by which they mean their rules. We can’t win, they say, because we don’t play their game.
We don’t fit in their cosy club. We ‘re not obsessed with the tittle-tattle of Westminster or Brussels. We don’t accept that it is natural for Britain to be governed by a ruling elite, the City and the tax-dodgers, and we don’t accept that the British people just have to take what they’re given, that they don’t deserve better.
And in a sense, the establishment and their followers in the media are quite right. I don’t play by their rules. And if a Labour Government is elected on 8 June, then we won’t play by their rules either.
They are yesterday’s rules, set by failed political and corporate elites we should be consigning to the past.
It is these rules that have allowed a cosy cartel to rig the system in favour of a few powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations. It is a rigged system set up by the wealth extractors, for the wealth extractors. But things can, and they will, change.
Britain needs a Labour government that is prepared to fight for people in every part of the country, our towns, villages, as well as big cities.
A Labour government that isn’t scared to take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves. It needs a government that will use that wealth to invest in people’s lives in every community to build a better future for every person who lives here.
Because the Conservatives, drunk on a failed ideology, are hell bent on cutting every public service they get their hands on, and they will use all of the divide-and-rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to keep their rigged system intact.
Don’t be angry at the privatisers profiting from our public services, they whisper, be angry instead at the migrant worker just trying to make a better life. Don’t be angry at the government ministers running down our schools and hospitals, they tell us, be angry instead at the disabled woman or the unemployed man. It is the rigged economy the Tories are protecting that Labour is committed to challenging.
We will not let the elite extract wealth from the pockets of ordinary working people any longer. So many people in modern Britain do what seems like the right thing to do. They get jobs, they spend all day working hard, they save to buy their own home, they raise children, they look after elderly or sick relatives. And yet, at the end of it, they get almost nothing left over as a reward.
Compare their lives with the multinational corporations and the gilded elite who hide their money in the Cayman Islands because the Conservatives are too morally bankrupt to take them on. Labour in power will end this racket and make sure that everybody pays their taxes which fund our public services. We will overturn this rigged system. For all Theresa May’s warm words on the steps of Downing Street the Conservatives will never do any such thing. Seven years of broken promises show us that on pay, the deficit, the NHS, our schools, our environment.
It was their wealthy friends in the City who crashed our economy. How dare they ruin the economy with their recklessness and greed and then punish those who had nothing to do with it? It was not pensioners, nurses, the low or averaged paid workers or carers who crashed the economy. The Conservatives boast of record numbers of jobs. But what good is that if people in work are getting poorer and don’t share in the profits of that economy while the Conservatives look after the wealthy few?
Our offer is to tackle elderly poverty and loneliness, invest in our economy, NHS and schools, to improve rights at work and the ten pound living wage. Britain is the sixth richest economy in the world. The people of Britain must share in that wealth. If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green, I’d be worried about a Labour Government, I really would.
If I were Mike Ashley or the CEO of a tax avoiding multinational corporation, I’d want to see a Tory victory. Why? Because those are the people who are monopolising the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us in this country.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a contribution to make and a life to lead. Poverty and homelessness are a disaster for the individual and a loss to all of us. It is wealth that should belong to the majority and not a tiny minority.
Labour is the party that will put the interests of the majority first, while the Tories only really care about those who already have so much. That is why we will prove the establishment experts wrong and change the direction of this election. Because the British people know that they are the true wealth creators, held back by a system rigged for the wealth extractors.
Theresa May will insist that this is an election about Brexit. She will try to downplay the issues that affect people’s lives every day and instead turn the election into an ego trip about her own failing leadership and the machinations of the coming negotiations in Brussels. It is only Labour that will focus on what kind of country we want to have after Brexit.
In the coming weeks Labour will lay out our policies to unlock opportunities for every single person in this country.
We will focus on giving people real control over their own lives and make sure that everybody reaps a just reward for the work that they do. We will no longer allow those at the top to leach off of those who bust their guts on zero hours contracts or those forced to make sacrifices to pay their mortgage or their rent. Instead of the country’s wealth being hidden in tax havens we will put it in the hands of the people of Britain as they are the ones who earned it.
In this election Labour will lead the movement to make that change.
We will build a new economy, worthy of the 21st century and we will build a country for the many not the few.