Jeremy Corbyn to call for ‘kinder politics’ at Labour Party conference speech

Published: Tuesday 29th September 2015 by The News Editor

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Jeremy Corbyn will use his most high-profile speech since becoming leader of the Labour Party to insist that his political beliefs are driven by “shared majority British values” and a love of his country.

The address to Labour’s annual conference in Brighton comes after controversy over Mr Corbyn’s failure to sing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain commemoration and uncertainty over whether he would be willing to bend his knee to the Queen.

But aides dismissed suggestions that the new leader’s comments were intended to counter accusations he lacked patriotism. They insisted he was simply “setting out his stall” to explain what kind of leader he will be.

His speech will call for “kinder politics”, a “caring society” and the return of “values” to the political debate, they said.

Just two weeks after being swept into office with almost 60% of the votes of Labour members and supporters, Mr Corbyn will say that the scale of his victory gives him a huge “mandate for change”.

“It was a vote for change in the way we do politics, in the Labour Party and the country,” he is expected to say.

“Kinder, more inclusive. Bottom up, not top down. In every community and workplace, not just at Westminster.”

But in a sharp break from several of his predecessors, Mr Corbyn will declare that he has no intention of imposing policies on the party from above, but will listen to the views of members during a lengthy policy review and seek a collective position.

Aides declined to say whether he would accept the party’s collective judgment if it contradicted his own deeply-held beliefs on issues like scrapping the Trident nuclear deterrent.

Mr Corbyn suffered a setback earlier in the week when delegates at Brighton rejected plans for a debate on Trident. But he won warm support from activists for shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s rejection of austerity and promise to balance the nation’s books without hurting middle and low-earners.

In a speech expected to come in significantly shorter than the usual hour-long conference address and to contain little policy detail, Mr Corbyn will say: ” As I travelled the country during the leadership campaign it was wonderful to see the diversity of all the people in the country.

“Even more inspiring was the unity and unanimity of their values – a belief in coming together to achieve more than we can on our own. Fair play for all, solidarity and not walking by on the other side of the street when people are in trouble. Respect for others’ point of view.

“It is this sense of fair play, these shared majority British values, that are the fundamental reason why I love this country and its people.

“These values are what I was elected on: a kinder politics and a more caring society.

“They are Labour values and our country’s values.

“We are going to put these values back into politics.

“It’s because I am driven by these British majority values, because I love this country, that I want to rid it of injustice, to make it fairer, more decent, more equal.

“And I want all of our citizens to benefit from prosperity and success.”

Labour said the tone of the address was pitched to appeal to people who have lost interest in politics because of disillusionment with the way it is conducted at Westminster.

Echoing the conference slogan “Straight talking, honest politics”, Mr Corbyn will say he offers: “Real debate, not message discipline. Straight talking. Honest.”

In an apparent attempt to build bridges with centrist figures who have refused to serve on his front bench, the veteran left-winger will say: “I am not imposing leadership lines.

“I don’t believe anyone has a monopoly on wisdom – we all have ideas and a vision of how things can be better.”

He will call for “open debate” within the party, promising: ” I will listen to everyone. I firmly believe leadership is listening.”

Mr Corbyn will read his text from an autocue for the first time in his public life. But he is expected to eschew much of the razzmatazz employed by many modern politicians.

There will be no discussion of his private life or his personal background, and while wife Laura Alvarez may be in the audience, she will not join him on stage.

The speech has been drafted over the last few days, largely by Mr Corbyn himself, assisted by director of policy Neale Coleman.

Aides said they did not know what he would wear for the crucial address, when he could face the largest TV audience of his life so far. He was pictured putting finishing touches to the speech with red socks and sandals on.

Published: Tuesday 29th September 2015 by The News Editor

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