UK Politics

Corbyn says class still matters in politics

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright PA

Jeremy Corbyn has said class matters in politics as he vowed to give workers a "real voice" in how decisions are made and a "larger share" of wealth.

The Labour leader told Unite union members his party had been told for 30 years "class doesn't matter any more" and it should not focus on bettering the lives of the working class.

This, he said, had resulted in falling living standards and more inequality.

Labour, he argued, was "back as the political voice of the working class".

Unveiling his 20-point plan for workers, including a ban on zero-hours contracts and unpaid internships, an end to employment tribunal fees and the right of unions to have access to all workplaces to recruit new members - he said his aim was to distribute power to give people more control over their lives.

Labour existed as a party, he said, to represent low and middle-income voters, skilled and unskilled workers in every sector of the economy trying to provide for their families and to improve themselves.

Suggesting previous Labour leaders had not done enough to help its core supporters, he said working-class values such as "solidarity, collective strength, support for each other, pride in our communities" would be at the heart of Labour's efforts in opposition and government.

"We need to do far more to give a real voice to working-class communities who feel they aren't heard in politics, often older people living outside the big cities in areas hit by decades of failed economic policies.

"For 30 years, the media and the establishment tried to tell us that class doesn't matter any more and that we should ditch any idea of representing and advancing the interests of the working class.

"We've seen where that's got us. Trade union membership and living standards falling while inequality and insecurity grow.

"In government, we will put the interests of working-class people centre stage to give the majority a decent chance, real control of their lives and a larger share of the wealth created."

Critics of Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who has said his job is to "overthrow capitalism", say their plan to nationalise key industries, such as the railways and water companies, and other investment plans are unaffordable and will result in higher borrowing and rising taxes for working families.