Labour leadership contest: Jeremy Corbyn insists many rich people 'would be willing to pay more tax'

Exclusive: Left-winger says voters are happy to fund better public services

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Indy Politics

Jeremy Corbyn has rounded on Labour critics of his economic plans by insisting that many wealthy people would be willing to pay more tax in return for better services.

The left-winger, whose surge in popularity has galvanised the party’s leadership contest, has hit back at accusations from rivals that “Corbynomics” amounts to “deficit denial”.

Writing for The Independent, he responds: “Far from denying the deficit, we must tackle it, but I do dispute that you best close it by cutting the public services and benefits of the poorest, or squeezing spending out of the economy so that growth is slowed down.”

Read Jeremy Corbyn's full piece here

The Islington North MP said if Britain still faced a deficit at the next election in 2020, it would be a mistake to set an “arbitrary deadline” to eradicate it, arguing that it would be better to grow the economy and if necessary ask the best-off to pay more tax.

He writes: “Many well-off people I speak to, in Islington and around the country, would be quite happy to pay more tax to fund better public services or to pay down our debts.

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A close-up view of a sticker showing support for Jeremy Corbyn worn by a supporter at a Labour party leadership rally on August 3, 2015 in London (Getty)

“Opinion polls bear this out, better-off people are no less likely to support higher taxes: a more equal society is better for us all. We all do better  ... when we all care for each other.”

Mr Corbyn, who has won heavy backing from constituency parties and trade unions, also rejected accusations that he was unelectable, pointing to his record of electoral success in his constituency.

“Labour has to become a movement again to win in 2020. A movement mobilises people and the part of the electorate who we most need to speak to is those who didn’t vote –34 per cent at the last election. They are more likely to be young, from an ethnic minority background and to be working class – as are the hundreds of thousands who weren’t registered to vote at all,” he writes.

He was responding to comments by Chris Leslie, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who claimed that “Corbynomics” would harm the poor and vulnerable and appealed for Labour to reject a “starry-eyed, hard left” strategy. Several Shadow Cabinet ministers, including Mr Leslie, have indicated that they would not accept frontbench positions under Mr Corbyn.

But Mr Corbyn said that the Shadow Cabinet should include people from all strands of Labour thought, and added: “Some of the things said in the heat of the campaign will doubtless be left there. I don’t do personal abuse .... When the dust settles, we will all still be Labour.”

Andy Burnham, considered the leadership frontrunner before the dramatic momentum grew behind Mr Corbyn, has pledged to renationalise the railways, insisting the scheme would pay for itself.

Mr Burnham told BBC Radio 4: “I am not saying ... at a stroke of a pen try and renationalise the whole lot. I am saying as franchises expire, we should bring them back under public control.”

His move was seen as an attempt to win over Labour left-wingers attracted by Mr Corbyn’s policy platform.

Mr Burnham’s manifesto also promises a graduate tax to replace tuition fees, the extension of the national living wage to workers of all ages, and a guarantee that everyone can rent or own an “affordable” home.

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