With a new poll out today giving the Conservatives a 24 point lead over Labour, the June election already looks like a done deal to many. But today Jeremy Corbyn tried to put his party’s woes to one side as he launched Labour’s campaign with his first speech of the election.
As hacks were heckled for asking about those pesky polls, Corbyn used the main thrust of his speech to set himself out as the anti-establishment leader. He said that while the Tories want to make the election about Brexit, Labour will focus on domestic issues that effect voters on a daily basis — ‘it is only Labour that will focus on what kind of country we want to have after Brexit’.
What was most striking about the speech was Corbyn’s full-on populism. Finding his inner Trump, the Labour leader spoke of the ‘rigged system’ on three occasions. But he also borrowed a phrase from the Blair playbook, saying that only Labour would govern ‘for the many not the few’. He hit out at the mainstream media and said that they do not want Labour to win because that would mean the people, not the powerful, had won. It’s a line that will play well with the membership.
He singled out Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley and Philip Green as figures that show the extent of corruption and greed in Britain today — warning that only Labour could crack down on those who ‘are monopolising the wealth’:
‘If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green, I’d be worried about a Labour Government. If I were Mike Ashley or the CEO of a tax avoiding multinational corporation, I’d want to see a Tory victory.