Labour leadership: The choice at the heart of the leadership campaign

Are we slightly fairer managers of the same way of doing things or the architects of a better way?

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The Independent Online

At the core of Labour’s leadership election is a choice. Not about personalities but about two paths for Labour and Britain. Does Labour stand up to the Tories' miserable and divisive austerity policies, reinvigorating our party as a social movement to oppose them - or do we accept them or some variant of them?

Many Labour members were shocked to hear some in Labour’s ranks after the election appear to argue that we should drop the notion that the richest should bear more of the burden in hard times.

This is the choice before Labour members and supporters. Are we slightly fairer managers of the same way of doing things or the architects of a better way? With George Osborne in his Budget this week about to mete out another dollop of misery we have to confront this.

Labour’s approach is not only concerned about the poor. Instead it is about building an electoral alliance in every region and nation. That requires policies that alleviate poverty but also build a dynamic economy for everyone. No one succeeds unless we all succeed. 

In the aftermath of the banking crisis, government bailed out the banks but there has been no bailout for people losing their jobs, whose wages were cut, or who themselves became bankrupt. Neither was there any bailout for small businesses who struggled because the bailed-out banks wouldn’t lend.

Our economy is rigged. The so-called economic recovery has not changed this. Nor has it yet been a recovery for most people.

On Wednesday George Osborne will announce more misery: wage restraint, service cuts and benefit freezes.

The challenge for Labour is whether to accept this straitjacket. A people's economy requires an active, strategic government to ensure everyone succeeds so that economic power is shared, not hoarded by a few.

There are alternatives. It is nonsense to set an arbitrary deadline for deficit eradication and then impose spending cuts that remove money from the economy and opportunities from people. That damages recovery. The economy should work for the people, not the other way round.

My leadership campaign will set out credible ways to keep money in the economy and make it work for all of us by opposing cuts that will decimate services and undermine growth.

We will argue that the Opposition must oppose – it must oppose the harm that the Tories are doing. We will argue that when we are back in government we will invest and grow.

We will use the problems in our society – from tax avoidance and evasion to the suppression of peoples’ wages – to instead unlock growth and investment.

In the coming weeks we will set out the choices around these and other problems that mean we can keep spending power in the economy and use it for a modern vision of a dynamic Britain.

We will offer credible choices such as these because we do not believe that accepting austerity is the way for Labour to win. Rejecting austerity’s grim future is the best way to build an electoral alliance from Southampton through Nuneaton to Kilmarnock.

Jeremy Corbyn is MP for Islington North and a candidate in Labour’s leadership election