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Jeremy Corbyn: What I stand for in the general election

JEREMY CORBYN explains that peace, housing and decent living standards for all are top of his agenda as Britain gets set to head to the polls, where he has announced he will be an independent candidate

THANK YOU to the Morning Star for regularly printing articles of hope, determination and belief in a better society and a better world.

Yesterday morning I announced my independent candidacy for Islington North in the general election.

Today I’ve not long returned from a daily visit to a local cafe, and I spoke to many residents as I made my way to and from the cafe. I was delighted to receive many offers of support, and congratulatory messages for our campaign, and expressions of hope that we will offer something very different from other mainstream parties.

We will be campaign in in every street and knock on every door in the constituency. Our website already has a huge number of people writing in and offering support for us to win in this election.

The key issue facing our society is one of inequality. Working-class living standards have fallen by 20 per cent since 2010. Even the most successful wage demands have often gained settlements that are not much above the rate of inflation. So, we have a growing inequality in this country.

There are more billionaires than ever and more foodbanks than at any point in history. In Islington North, despite its image as being a relatively well-off area, over 45 per cent of our children live in relative poverty. Every one of the eight wards in the constituency has atleast one foodbank, and nationally, over three million people are now forced to access foodbanks.

The solution to this is higher wages, and an end to the two-child benefit cap for those on universal credit. And a taxation system that taxes the very richest in our society, including non-doms, and appropriate corporate levels of taxation. The poorest people literally pay the most through poverty and a lack of support. 

Margaret Thatcher’s government from 1999 onwards privatised huge swathes of industry and services. The plan that we put forward in the last two election campaigns of taking mail, rail, water and energy into public ownership all met with huge public support.

This is now more necessary than ever.  

In the case of water, the privatised water companies have posted massive profits, huge debts and enormous payouts to shareholders. In return the public are being rewarded with higher water bills, very inefficient service, endless leaks, burst pipes and criminal damage to our environment where raw sewage is pumped into the sea. Privatisation pollutes.

The case for public mail ownership is overwhelming — a service that reaches every single address in the UK can only ever be a public monopoly. Private companies have no real intention other than profit, while squeezing profit from those who work for Royal Mail.

Rail public ownership is well overdue, however, this does not mean just waiting for the train operating company franchises to finish, leaving open access trains to run on our tracks and freight to remain in private hands. It must mean wholesale public ownership of all aspects of our railway systems.  

The last manifesto from the Labour Party included industrial democracy, the right of workers to have elected representatives on the boards of companies, and a say in the future of those companies. This is now needed more than ever and the skills of people should be utilised in developing our economy.

The environmental disaster is obvious to all, with loss of biodiversity, huge levels of pollution of our water courses and seas, and in some cities, very poor air quality, and globally, the most vulnerable people are the poorest people in the poorest places of the world’s biggest cities.

We need an environmental strategy which is about investment in sustainable energy, better insulation of our homes and reliable and affordable public transport to reduce the dependence on the individual motorcar.

All of this requires a huge level of public investment in a Green New Deal, in order not to punish those who work in industries that are currently polluting, but to ensure there is a fair transition, with no loss of jobs for anyone.

Children in primary school fully understand the importance of biodiversity. If children can understand this, why do we have a financially incentivised agricultural system that does so much damage to our natural world, and encourages deforestation and the loss of enormous numbers of species?  Environment is a state of mind, not just the details of policy.

In Islington North, housing is a key central issue. Less than 30 per cent of the population are owner occupiers, and very few of them are mortgage-free.

Those who live in council or housing association property have some degree of security and in most cases a reasonable place to live. The remaining 30 per cent-plus of the population live in the private rented sector, which is expensive, insecure and often in very poor condition. 

We need rent regulation and rent control as a matter of urgency, and certainty of tenure especially for young people who are unlikely to get council housing and thus rely on the private-sector market in which to live. Rents often rob them of almost half of their take-home pay, and we have one of the highest levels in Europe.

In our community there is huge support from the NHS. Together we prevented the closure of the Whittington and then the sale of its land assets. On Thursday in Parliament I asked the Secretary of State for Health what she thought about the expenditure of the NHS of more than £11 billion per year on the private sector, and the fact that most hospitals are spending 16 per cent of their budget on paying the private finance initiative contracts.

We have to end the whole process of privatisation and contracting-out of services in the NHS. We need a fully funded NHS and care service.

Over the last six months, tens of thousands of people have marched and demonstrated for a ceasefire in Gaza; they have shown that they are appalled at the events on October 7, and equally appalled by the decades-long occupation of Palestine by the Israeli military.

I attended the International Court of Justice which made its interim ruling demanding that Israel cease the bombardment of Gaza. It was a very moving occasion in which South Africa presented a brilliant case. Having overthrown apartheid, they are keen to ensure it does not exist anywhere else. Our marches and demonstrations have been illustrative of our hope for peace, and a love for fellow humanity. 

I have always spoken out against human rights violations wherever they occur, and for peace and justice around the world. If elected to Parliament, I will continue doing so, and I will continue to do this wherever I am. 

The Labour leadership has denied the Labour members of Islington North their rights to a selection process regarding their candidate. 

My independent candidature is one supported by many, some of them Labour Party members, and some from no particular party. They are all united around the themes I represent, for a just fair and equitable society.

We embark on this campaign with a sense of hope, and enormous purpose, as we bring excitement to the campaign about the sort of world we want to live in. Join us at www.votecorbyn.com.

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