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Corbyn Leicester rally: Labour leader pledges to reverse privatisation of energy, rail, health and social care services

Jeremy Corbyn addressed a crowd of around one-thousand people at the Tigers’ Stadium in Leicester yesterday. He spoke powerfully against the Tories’ track-record in government, and pledged to tackle the deep-seated inequality which has been allowed to run rampant across the country.

His message for the tax-avoiding super-rich was clear:

Today, I say to tax cheats, rip-off bosses, and the greedy bankers, enough is enough. We want that money for investment.

Throughout the election campaign, Corbyn has promised repeatedly to put a stop to corporate tax avoidance. But he has stopped short of addressing the issue of who owns these big businesses.

Yesterday’s speech finally began to address this. Corbyn called for an end to the privatisation of health, social care, the railways, and energy:

We are drawing a line under decades of privatisation from energy and rail to health and social care that has made some people very, very rich, but it’s not delivered richer lives for the vast majority.

He continued:

In this election, we’ll be outlining a plan to transform Britain: an upgraded economy, run for the many and not the few. It will mean standing up to powerful vested interests, but we are up for the challenge, aren’t we?

This call was met with a resounding “YES” from the audience.

This is fantastic stuff. But if Corbyn is to win this election, he needs to make the issue of the ownership of parasitic corporations central to his campaign. He should spell out the real implications of “reversing privatisation” by calling for energy, rail, health, and social care to be brought under democratic public ownership and workers’ control.

He could then build upon this demand and call for the nationalisation of the banks. After-all, it was the gambling and financial speculation of the bankers who led us into the 2007-2008 recession, and it is the working class who have been paying the price ever since.

Today’s Sunday Times Rich List would provide serious ammunition in making this case. Over the last year, Britain’s wealthiest 1,000 individuals and families have actually increased their wealth by 14% – from £575billion to £658billion.

At the same time, more than 1million people, including nurses and others suffering from in-work poverty, now depend on food banks.

Tax the rich!

Today, Labour also hit back against the Tories’ fearmongering that a Corbyn-led government would mean tax rises for low and middle income earners. In a speech set to be given later today, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will rule out tax hikes for those earning less than £80,000 a year – i.e. 95% of the population:

The choice at this election is very clear on tax as there is currently only one party which is committing not to raise taxes on middle and low earners.

Compare this with Theresa May, who refused to rule out income tax and national insurance rises should she win the general election. She has also indicated that the “triple lock” on pensions would come to end under Tory rule.

Having seen how angry the Tories’ policies are making even their core-voters, May has since retreated into robotics – “strong and stable”.

The Tories claim to be the party of low tax, but, as McDonnell will say, this only applies to the “super-rich and the big corporations”.

Can Corbyn win?

Corbyn faces an uphill battle – that much is clear. The toxic legacy of Blairism means that many people still regard the party with suspicion. This is not helped by the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party and Labour councillors are Blairites.

Part of Corbyn’s problem, therefore, is convincing voters that he would make good on his promises. The more he disavows the class collaborationist tactics of New Labour the better chance he has of doing this.

Calling for the full nationalisation of energy, rail, health, and social care is a step in this direction.

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