The man labelled a “bearded socialist voter-repellent” by a Tory broadsheet last week found no shortage of friends at a Labour leadership hustings in Brighton. Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of a “decent, cohesive society” and his views on education, the BBC and the real villains behind the 2008 recession were met with rapturous applause.
Things were less amiable on Monday when Mr Corbyn lost his cool during a fractious interview with Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy who repeatedly asked him to explain why he had called members of a Palestinian Hamas delegation “friends”. His emergence as an unlikely frontrunner in the Labour leadership race prompted The Daily Telegraph to urge its readers to vote for him and “destroy the Labour Party”.
Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, the committed socialist brushed off the attacks. He said politics was about the battle of ideas rather than a popularity contest. “It isn’t about one individual. It isn’t about personalities. It’s about the direction of travel of the Labour Party,” he said. The 66-year-old insisted he could change the prevailing political wind if elected.
The fate of the NHS would feature heavily in a Corbyn-led Labour campaign. “What the Tories are trying to do is diminish it to a service of last resort for the poorest people and the rest will be encouraged to take out private health insurance,” he said.
Another battleground would be welfare, with Mr Corbyn pointing to the large numbers of “desperate and very poor people” who have flocked to Britain’s coasts. “I talk to homeless people all over Britain who often had good jobs and things have gone wrong for them,” he said. “Do you want to live in a decent, cohesive society? Then it costs. You do have to pay tax to achieve it, but the benefits for all of us are so much greater.”Reuse content