Jeremy Corbyn launches Labour leadership bid as MPs accused of not cheering him at PMQs

Incumbent says he will force companies to publish details of their employees' working conditions

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 21 July 2016 11:19 BST
Jeremy Corbyn launches Labour leadership bid

Jeremy Corbyn has formally launched his fight to remain party leader with a pledge to tackle discrimination in the workplace – as Labour MPs were accused of deliberately undermining him by not cheering his words at PMQs.

Speaking at the UCL Institute of Education the embattled Labour leader laid out the "five ills" of 21st century Britain - inequality, neglect, insecurity, prejudice, and discrimination. Echoing the five “giant evils” identified by the social reformer William Beveridge in the 1940s, the Labour leader claimed that throughout his leadership campaign he would match each of these ills with a policy solution.

His hopes of holding on to his job were boosted after more than 183,000 people paid £25 this week to become registered supporters, enabling them to vote in the party's leadership election. Sources close to the Labour leader believe many of the new supporters have signed up to back Mr Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn said his plan to combat discrimination in the workplace involved forcing companies with more than 21 employees to publish details of their employees' working conditions, hours and pay.

In a speech in London supported by Labour frontbencher Kate Osamor, and activists, the Labour leader said: “It is not only women who face workplace discrimination but disabled workers, the youngest and oldest worker, black and ethnic minority workers.”

“Young workers are institutionally discriminated against, not entitled to the full minimum wage, not entitled to equal rates of housing benefit and so many are now saddled with huge student debts,” he added.

It comes after Labour confirmed on Wednesday that Mr Corbyn and Owen Smith, the former work and pensions secretary, will be the only two candidates on the ballot paper for the postal vote which ends on 24 September.

His challenger in the contest Mr Smith became the “unity” candidate after Angela Eagle, the former business secretary, dropped out of the race to ensure there was just one challenger facing Mr Corbyn. “He believes he can win people round. He is not someone who is going to shy away from people who do not agree with him,” Mr Smith’s spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn’s close friend and ally Diane Abbott accused Labour MPs of “sulking” during the leader's addresses to the House of Commons. The shadow health secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If Owen Smith wants Jeremy to score over Theresa May in Prime Minister's Questions, he needs to talk to his colleagues.

"They refuse to cheer, they sit on their hands, they sulk, they chat among themselves, and some of these Labour MPs need to understand, it's not about supporting Jeremy as a person, it's about going into the chamber for Prime Minister's Questions and supporting your party.

"When Theresa May came in she got huge cheers from the Tory benches. When Jeremy came in there was silence."

Answering questions following the speech Mr Corbyn indicated that he would not hold grudges against critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party who have sought to oust him, saying: “I have an ability to very conveniently forget some of the unpleasant things that are said, because it's not worth it.”

Asked if he believed he could take Labour into power, Mr Corbyn added: “This party is going places. This party is strong. This party is capable of winning a general election and if I am leader of the party I will be that prime minister.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in