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Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto launch speech: Full transcript

21 November 2019

11:59 AM

21 November 2019

11:59 AM

Thank you for coming to help launch our manifesto and a special thanks to Birmingham City University for hosting us in this wonderful building.

Labour’s manifesto is a manifesto of hope. A manifesto that will bring real change. A manifesto full of popular policies that the political establishment has blocked for a generation. But you can’t have it.

At least, that’s what the most powerful people in Britain and their supporters want you to believe.

Over the next three weeks they are going to tell you that everything in this manifesto is impossible. That it’s too much for you. Because they don’t want real change.

Why would they? The system is working just fine for them. It’s rigged in their favour. But it’s not working for you.

If your wages never seem to go up and your bills never seem to go down, if your public services only seem to get worse, despite the heroic efforts of those who work in them, then it’s not working for you.

And that’s why so many people in Britain have given up on politics. That’s why you hear people say about politicians: “They’re all the same.”

Well not any more. Because this party, this movement, this manifesto is different.

Labour is on your side. And there could scarcely be a clearer demonstration of that than the furious reaction of the rich and powerful.

If the bankers, billionaires and the establishment thought we represented politics as usual, that we could be bought off, that nothing was really going to change – they wouldn’t attack us so ferociously. Why bother?

But they know we mean what we say. They know we will deliver our plans, which is why they want to stop us being elected. They know we will go after the tax dodgers, the bad bosses and the big polluters so that everybody in our country gets a fair chance in life. That’s why they throw everything they’ve got at us. Because they’re scared of real change. Because they aren’t on your side.

A third of Britain’s billionaires have donated to the Conservative Party. The billionaires and the super-rich, the tax dodgers, the bad bosses and the big polluters – they own the Conservative Party. But they don’t own us. They don’t own the Labour Party. The people own the Labour Party.

That’s why the billionaires attack us. That’s why the billionaire-owned media makes things up about us.

The US president who led his country out of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt, had to take on the rich and powerful in America to do it. That’s why he said: “They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.”

He knew that when you’re serious about real change those who profit from a rigged system, who squirrel away the wealth created by millions of people, won’t give up without a fight. So I accept that the opposition and hostility of the rich and powerful is inevitable.

I accept the opposition of the billionaires, because we will make those at the top pay their fair share of tax to help fund world class public services for you – that’s real change.

I accept the hostility of the bad bosses paying poverty pay because we will give Britain a pay rise starting with a real living wage of at least £10 an hour, including for young workers – that’s real change.

I accept the implacable opposition of the dodgy landlords because we will build a million homes, empower tenants and control rents – that’s real change.

I accept the hostility of the big polluters because we will make sure they pay their fair share of the costs of their destruction, create a million climate jobs and build the healthy, green economy of the future – that’s real change.

I accept the fierce opposition of the giant healthcare corporations because we will stop them sucking out profits from our NHS – that’s real change.

I accept the hostility of the privatised utilities companies because we will stop their great rip off by bringing rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership and running them for the people – that’s real change.

And here’s a brand new one: I accept the implacable opposition of the private Internet providers because we’re going to give you the very fastest full-fibre broadband for free – that’s real change.

You can trust us to do all this because we’re opposed by the vested interests for standing up for a different kind of society. These policies are fully costed with no increases in VAT or income tax or National Insurance for anyone earning less than £80,000. That’s no tax increases for 95% of taxpayers.

We’ll deliver real change for the many and not the few. That’s what this manifesto is all about. And you really can have this plan for real change because you don’t need money to buy it.

You just need a vote – and your vote can be more powerful than all their wealth. So the first step is to make sure you’re registered to vote.

Don’t miss out. This is your chance. If you’re not registered, do it today. If you are registered, get your friends and family registered too.

Because what the powerful fear is that you’ll hear what we’re offering in this manifesto and vote for yourself and your family. That you’ll find out what’s actually in this manifesto, not what the billionaire press claims is in it – and vote for your community. That you’ll see this manifesto and vote for the person who’s struggling who you don’t even know.

Vote for the young person who can’t go to the youth centre after school because it’s closed its doors, and who has nothing to do but hang around on the street.

Vote for the mum falling into debt because she has to fork out for her kids to go to university, and for her own parents’ care.

Vote for the older person, too afraid to walk down their street because violent crime has doubled under Conservative austerity.

Vote for the soldier who served in the armed forces for years, now sleeping in a doorway on a freezing cold winter night because mental health services weren’t there when they needed them.

How can any government claim it cares about our country when it cares so little about the people who live here?

No one can deny the thirst for real change in Britain. I believe that was a driving force behind the EU referendum vote in 2016. But Boris Johnson is trying to hijack Brexit to sell out our NHS and sell out working people.

The Conservatives want to use Brexit to unleash Thatcherism on steroids, to inflict more pain on the very communities so viciously attacked by Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s, to benefit the billionaires and the vested interests they represent.

That’s why Johnson is preparing to sell out our NHS for a US trade deal that will drive up the cost of medicines and lead to the runaway privatisation of our health service.

£500 million a week of NHS money – enough for 20,000 new nurses – could be handed to big drugs companies as part of a deal now being plotted in secret.

If you watched the TV debate on Tuesday night, you’ll have seen me hold up the censored, blacked-out reports of secret talks between British and American officials about opening up our health service to US corporations and driving up the cost of medicines.

You’ll have seen Johnson lose his cool, because he’s been found out.

Labour will never use our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks and we will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. We say it loud and clear: our NHS is not for sale.

If you watched the debate you’ll have heard Boris Johnson claim he’ll get Brexit done, over and over again. That claim is a fraud on the British people.

His sell-out deal will be just the beginning of years of drawn-out, bogged-down negotiations and broken promises.

“Three years, maybe more,” according to the EU negotiator Michel Barnier. And his toxic deal with Donald Trump will take even longer.

With Labour it will be very different. We will get Brexit sorted within six months, because we’re not going to rip up our main trading relationship.

We’ll secure a sensible deal that protects manufacturing and the Good Friday Agreement, and then put it to a public vote alongside the option of remaining in the EU.

So if you want to leave without trashing our economy or selling out our NHS, you’ll be able to vote for it. If you want to remain, you’ll be able to vote for that.

Let’s take this out of the hands of politicians and give the British people the final say.

It’s time to bring a divided country together so we can get on with delivering the real change Britain needs. To drive that change we will unleash a record investment blitz, getting the economy moving in every corner of our country.

This is about the jobs at the end of your road. It’s about breathing new life into your area. Reviving your high street.

Our investment blitz will upgrade our national infrastructure in every region and nation, and rebuild our schools, hospitals, care homes and housing. Investment on a scale you have never known in every town, city and region.

And we’ll boost the devolved budgets, allowing the Welsh Labour government to build on its success with huge new projects like the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, and putting an extra £100 billion into Scotland to boost the Scottish economy, secure the future of industry and properly fund our public services.

Labour will transform our economy so that no one is held back, and no community is neglected. And that transformation will be a green transformation.

We can no longer deny the climate emergency we can see it all around us, as the recent floods in Yorkshire and the East Midlands have shown. We have no time to waste.

The crisis demands swift action, but it isn’t right to load the costs of the climate emergency onto the nurse, the builder or the energy worker.

So a Labour government will ensure the big oil and gas corporations that profit from heating up our planet will shoulder the burden and pay their fair share through a Just Transition Tax.

North Sea oil and gas workers have powered this country for decades, often working under dangerous conditions. We won’t hang them out to dry. This fund will safeguard a future for their skills and communities with new careers and secure, well-paid jobs.

The scale of climate breakdown is huge. Our response must be on a scale to match.

So as it says in our manifesto, Labour will create one million new green jobs as part of a Green Industrial Revolution. One million jobs from building wind turbines to insulating homes, from reforesting the Great British countryside to manufacturing new electric vehicles.

Margaret Thatcher’s government wiped out swathes of British industry. The next Labour government will rebuild it as green industry, the cutting edge industry of the future. Places whose identity and pride was steeped in the skills of the people who lived there will thrive once again.

Because with this manifesto Labour put the government on your side.

If you’re a patient or a nurse, Labour is on your side. We’ll rescue our NHS, make dental check-ups free, recruit thousands of nurses and doctors and bring down waiting lists.

If you’re a student, Labour is on your side. We’ll create a National Education Service, make lifelong education a right, value technical education as highly as academic learning and we’ll bring back maintenance grants and, yes, scrap university tuition fees.

If you’re reaching old age, Labour is on your side. We’ll protect pensions and provide free personal care. If you’re living with a disability, Labour is on your side. We’ll update the Equality Act and scrap Universal Credit.

If you’re a tenant, Labour is on your side. We’ll launch the biggest council house-building programme since the 1960s and cap rents. If you’re a new parent, Labour is on your side. We’ll guarantee 30 hours of free childcare for all 2 to 4 year olds.

All these ideas have been developed by people like you, working together.

Because Labour is a party of experts. And by experts I mean the people who produce the wealth and deliver our services at the sharp end; carers, teachers, train drivers, engineers, tech workers, all experts in their fields. That’s why when Labour wins the nurse wins, the student wins, the pensioner wins, the tenant wins, the young couple wins. We all win.

This manifesto is the most radical and ambitious plan to transform our country in decades. In an election offering a once-in-a-generation chance of real change we can end privatisation and rescue our NHS.

We can get Brexit sorted and bring our country together. We can tackle the climate emergency that threatens us all. And we can rewrite the rules of our economy to work for the many, not the few.

Ignore the wealthy and powerful who tell you that’s not possible. The future is ours to make, together.

As the writer Pablo Neruda wrote so beautifully: “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

Vote for this manifesto of hope. It’s time for real change.


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