Jeremy Corbyn to set campaign tone by targeting rich individuals
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, will set the tone of his election campaign on Thursday with a direct attack on “the privileged few” who benefit from a “corrupt system”, naming individual millionaires whom the UK opposition party wants to target.
Mr Corbyn will promise to “go after” the Duke of Westminster, the landowner, Mike Ashley, the retail billionaire, Jim Ratcliffe, chair of the Ineos chemicals group, Rupert Murdoch, the media baron, and Crispin Odey, the hedge fund boss.
In his first speech of the election campaign, Mr Corbyn will put himself firmly on the side of “the many not the few”, promising to shake up capitalism to help ordinary working families.
“This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country, take on the vested interests holding people back and ensure that no community is left behind,” he will say.
Mr Corbyn will claim that “the elite” in society does not want to pay taxes. “So they’ll fight harder and dirtier than ever before,” he will say. “They’ll throw everything at us because they know we’re not afraid to take them on.”
The Labour leader will then directly criticise “landlords like the Duke of Westminster”, whom he claims tried to evict families to make way for luxury apartments.
He will attack “bad bosses like Mike Ashley, the billionaire who won’t pay his staff properly and is running Newcastle United into the ground”, and Mr Ratcliffe, whom he claims is “Britain’s richest man who makes his money by polluting the environment”.
Also in Mr Corbyn’s sights is Mr Odey, “who makes millions betting against our country and on other people’s misery and donated huge sums to Boris Johnson and the Conservative party”, and Mr Murdoch, whose “empire pumps out propaganda to support a rigged system”.
The Financial Times could not immediately obtain comment from most of the business people Mr Corbyn refers to in his speech. Spokespeople for the duke and Mr Ashley declined to comment.
The Labour leader will ask voters to choose between siding with the supposed beneficiaries of Britain’s “rigged” capitalist system, or ordinary tenants, shop floor workers and children suffering from pollution.
“When Labour wins, the nurse wins, the pensioner wins, the student wins, the office worker wins, the engineer wins, we all win,” he will say.
Mr Corbyn’s economic prospectus has hardened considerably since the 2017 general election, when Labour claimed its policies of targeted nationalisations and tax rises on the rich were firmly in the European “social democratic tradition”.
The Labour leader’s speech will confirm that the party now intends to take a much tougher approach.
Labour has already set out plans for the state to seize 10 per cent of shares in big companies, which would be given to workers.
The party is also proposing a big nationalisation programme and has floated the idea of allowing tenants to buy their homes from private landlords, possibly at a discount to the market rate.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Labour Movement has announced it will not campaign for the party in the upcoming election, due to the rise in anti-Semitism under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
The JLM said it will not support Labour — the first time in its 100-year history — and will only offer support in “exceptional circumstances” and for “exceptional candidates”. The organisation has over 2,500 members and helped win seats in the 2015 and 2017 elections with significant Jewish votes.
“We will not be giving endorsements to candidates in non-Labour held seats. This does not mean that we no longer support the Labour party’s policies and its historic values, nor do we wish to see Boris Johnson or Jo Swinson in Downing Street,” the group said in a statement.