Jeremy Corbyn pledges to tear up Thatcher's economic legacy and replace it with 'new common sense' model

The Labour leader is expected to say the existing system has delivered a ‘brutal and less caring’ society

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 27 September 2017 09:07 BST
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What will be in Jeremy Corbyn's keynote speech?

Jeremy Corbyn will use his flagship conference speech to promise a “new common sense” model for British life that will overturn 30 years of liberal free market economics.

The leader will set out policies to pull up the foundations of the existing model, in place since Margaret Thatcher reshaped Britain in the 1980s and adhered to by Labour until Mr Corbyn came to office.

In particular, he will point to the Grenfell Tower disaster as a “tragic monument” to a model of government that has become “brutal and less caring” over the last three decades.

In its place, he will propose a new system with an empowered state, nationalised utilities, billions in extra funding for health and education services, curbs on corporate excess and tax rises for the wealthiest.

Mr Corbyn will then claim Labour is “ready for government” today and will demand Theresa May and her Cabinet “pull yourself together or make way” for his party, following a week of Conservative cabinet splits over Brexit and setbacks in Brussels.

His speech follows what has been a successful conference albeit with some problems, including divisions among party members over Brexit, signs antisemitism is still an issue in a part of the party and an admission that Labour has planned for a run on the pound if it enters government.

But it also clearly marks a new phase in Mr Corbyn’s leadership – one in which his power within Labour is largely unchallenged, his followers’ influence is being cemented and his confidence to set out a radical agenda growing.

From the stage, Mr Corbyn will tell delegates: “Against all predictions, in June we won the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945 and achieved Labour’s best vote for a generation.

“It’s a result which has put the Tories on notice and Labour on the threshold of power.

“Yes, we didn’t do quite well enough and we remain in opposition for now. But we have become a government-in-waiting. And our message to the country could not be clearer.”

He will add: “We are ready for government.”

Aides revealed how since the election the Shadow Cabinet has been developing the policies that saw Labour surge in the polls and strip the Conservatives of their majority, and been meeting with ex-civil servants to ensure the party can “operate the machinery of government” from day one.

Policies set out so far include plans to nationalise railways, water and energy companies and Royal Mail, to scrap private finance initiatives, to pump £500m into the NHS this year alone to deal with a winter crisis and a further £500m for childcare.

In particular Mr Corbyn will highlight a £2.5bn-a-year plan to roll out free courses for over 18s, including vocational and technical training as well as university degrees.

In 90 seconds: Labour Party conference highlights

His spokesman said: “We will talk about a new common sense. There is a new common sense emerging out of what people want, how they want the economy and the government to be run.

“The basic proposals we made in the election campaign and we are talking about now, are popular. They reflect public opinion. That’s where the centre of gravity actually is.

“Whereas the former model has clearly run out of steam, it isn’t delivering, it doesn’t work, the basic elements we are talking about are the building blocks of a new direction, our new common sense about how to run the country.”

The burnt out remains of Grenfell Tower highlighted by Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘tragic monument’

Mr Corbyn will tell delegates a “disregard for rampant inequality” and the “hollowing out” of public services has “made our society more brutal and less caring”.

He will add: “Now that degraded regime has a tragic monument – the chilling wreckage of Grenfell Tower, a horrifying fire in which dozens perished, an entirely avoidable human disaster.

“Grenfell is not just the result of bad political decisions. It stands for a failed and broken system, which Labour must and will replace.”

As Mr Corbyn made the last minute tweaks to his speech on Tuesday, Ms May was again pushing for a breakthrough in stalled Brexit talks, still reeling from a week of cabinet splits over her approach to withdrawal and speculation about a leadership challenge from Boris Johnson.

Labour could negotiate 'new single market relationship' after Brexit

The Labour leader’s aides argued that Mr Corbyn’s plan to give a unilateral guarantee of the rights of all EU citizens living in Britain – a key sticking point with Brussels – on day one of moving into Downing Street, would be the catalyst to break the negotiations deadlock.

The leader will say: “The Tories are more interested in posturing for personal advantage than in getting the best deal for Britain.

“Never has the national interest been so ill-served on such a vital issue. If there were no other reason for the Tories to go, their self-interested Brexit bungling would be reason enough.

“So I have a simple message to the cabinet: For Britain’s sake pull yourself together or make way.”

Mr Corbyn will also set out how his government would seek to “face the challenge of automation” with robotics set to replace thousands of jobs over the next 30 years.

He will say: “That is a threat in the hands of the greedy but what an opportunity if it’s managed in the interests of society as a whole.

“But if planned and managed properly, accelerated technological change can be the gateway for a new settlement between work and leisure, a springboard for expanded creativity and culture, making technology our servant and not our master at long last.

“The tide of automation and technological change means training and management of the workforce must be centre-stage in the coming years. So Labour will build an education and training system from the cradle to the grave that empowers people, not one that shackles them with debt.”

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