Category Archives: Inequality

Not to be missed: The Intercept’s Naomi Klein interviews Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K. Labour Party: 13th July 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRQUyX9L7T4&t=94s 

Jessica Corbett’s account of it may be read here: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/07/14/jeremy-corbyn-talks-naomi-klein-about-creating-better-world 

 

 

 

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“Corbyn’s policies based on peace, respect and our shared humanity”

Kate Hudson observes that the outcome of the general election marks a significant shake-up in British politics and a surge in support for qualitatively different policies:

“It is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.

She views the election as a significant shift towards the politics of hope, peace, inclusivity, justice and equality.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s long – standing opposition to nuclear weapons, and his personal opposition to Trident replacement, did not deter millions of people from voting for him. Indeed the likelihood is that many – particularly young people – have voted for him precisely because he opposes war, intervention and weapons of mass destruction.

“Support for Trident replacement is negligible amongst the younger generation and it is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.

The right wing of the Labour Party, and a small but powerful section of the trade union movement, have ‘peddled the myth’ that Labour needs to look ‘strong on defence’ to win – and that this means supporting Trident replacement.

But, Kate believes, support for the party has surged because it has a radical vision of a different society, and because everyone knows that Jeremy Corbyn does not support Trident replacement. When he first became leader, he commissioned an extensive Defence Review throughout the Labour Party. That review has been shelved – because it showed the extent of anti-Trident opinion within the party?

She calls for that review to be published and debated at the next Labour Party conference: “This issue must not be kept off the agenda any longer”. There is no popular mandate for a Tory security policy, or a Tory-lite security policy pushed on the Labour party by a minority of pro-nuclear forces that are living in the past.  Those trade unions that have put unreasonable pressure on Jeremy to keep Trident are urged to change:

“The way for them to secure and extend high quality, well-paid jobs is to support Jeremy’s policy on defence diversification. Rather than shunning this initiative they need to work with politicians and industry to develop a diversification plan, as part of a national industrial strategy that will secure their jobs without holding the rest of the country over a nuclear barrel”.

As she points out, there is now strong public backing for industrial planning and investment and this needs to go into sustainable industrial production to meet public needs, for energy, housing and public resources, not weapons of mass destruction.

Labour’s support has grown because of Corbyn’s policies based on peace, respect and our shared humanity. And this vision goes beyond national boundaries to his vision of how we relate to the rest of the world. No longer Blair’s ‘war-fighting nation’, ‘punching above its weight’, but a decent part of a shared community of nations.

Read her article here: http://www.cnduk.org/images/stories/Summer_2017.pdf

Kate Hudson,  British political activist and academic, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

 

 

 

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As ‘Jeremy Corbyn rocks Glastonbury’ – Murdoch resumes the ‘bashathon’

One Times reader commented: ”The Sunday Times is on a Corbyn bashathon today. “All hands to the wheel, 700 words on Jezza…” I would turn to the sports pages but I suspect there might be a sly dig at Labour lurking somewhere”.

Author Sarah Baxter’s photograph (right) adorns her article – and the headline continues (“his goons crush dissent”) by implying ‘heavies’ were menacing anyone failing to applaud. The sub-line was: “Labour moderates are put to the sword”, but she was merely rehashing recent events at the Unite Union.

New Musical Express (NME), a British music magazine, had the grace to give a straightforward account and also published the full text of the speech. Highlights were:

His words to the many young people in the audience who had been “fed up with being denigrated, fed up with being told they don’t matter. Fed up with being told they never participate, and utterly fed up with being told that their generation was going to pay more to get less in education, in health, in housing, in pensions and everything else. That they should accept low wages and insecurity, and they should see it as just part of life” . . .

“Well it didn’t quite work out like that did it? That politics that got out of the box, is not going back in any box.

“Because we’re there demanding and achieving something very different in our society and in our lives.

“There’s a number of things, they’re very simple, very basic questions that we should ask ourselves:

  • Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in and only a street to sleep on?
  • Is it right that so many people are frightened of where they live at the moment having seen the horrors of what happened at Grenfell Tower?
  • Is it right that so many people live in such poverty in a society surrounded by such riches? No it obviously is not.
  • And is it right that European nationals living in this country, making their contribution to our society, working in our hospitals, schools and universities don’t know if they’re going to be allowed to remain here?

I say, they all most stay and they all must be part of our world and part of our community, because what festivals are about, what this festival is about, is coming together.

“Do you know what? When people across the world think the same, cooperate the same, maybe in different languages, different faiths, peace is possible and must be achieved. And do you know what? Let’s stop the denigration of refugees, people looking for a place of safety in a cruel and dangerous world. They are all human beings just like us here today. They’re looking for a place of safety and looking to make their contribution to the future of all of us, so let’s support them in their hour of need. Not a threat and a danger.

“I think we should adopt a maxim in life that everyone we meet is unique. Everyone knows something we don’t know, is slightly different to us in some ways. Don’t see them as a threat. Don’t see them as the enemy. See them as a source of knowledge, a source of friendship and a source of inspiration.

“We cannot go on destroying this planet through global warming, through pollution, through the destruction of habitat, through pollution of our seas and rivers. We have to live on this planet, there is only one planet. Not even Donald Trump believes there is another planet somewhere else. And so let us protect the planet that we’ve got. Use the technology that we have to manage and control the use of our natural resources so that the planet is here in future generations in better condition than it is at the present time.

“But let’s also look at instability and problems around the world and tackle the causes of war: the greed of natural resources, human rights, the irrational imprisonment of political opponents. Let’s look to build a world of human rights, peace, justice and democracy all over the planet”.

The rightwing press called his preference for attending the music festival over celebrating Armed Forces Day a former soldier pointed out that JC was actually raising the morale of his grand-children by promising them a better future.

And as two Sunday Times journalists feebly jibed at Corbyn’s wrinkles (‘Glasto raves with ‘Jagger’ Corbyn‘, looking down on the ‘Glastonbury festival masses’ who in a ‘rabidly Jeremaniac mood’  ‘succumbed’ yesterday to a ‘frenzied outbreak of Corbyn­mania’, Corbyn ended:

“This festival, this wonderful festival and all of its stages and music gives that chance it that opportunity to so many young musicians, that they may achieve and inspire us all. And I’m proud to be here for that. I’m proud to be here to support the peace movement here and the way that message gets across. But I’m also very proud to be here for the environmental causes that go with it.

“Let us be together and recognise another world is possible if we come together to understand that. Understand the power we’ve got to achieve that decent, better society where everyone matters and those poverty-stricken people are enriched in their lives and the rest of us are made secure by their enrichment”.

 

 

 

 

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General Election – Cole: “ My money is on Corbyn . . . to displace Theresa May because he leads a movement, not just a party”

In 2016, Roger Cole, founder and chairman of Ireland’s Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), predicted that Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, will displace Theresa May because he leads a movement, not just a party.

In 2009, he writes, Jeremy Corbyn visited Ireland to attend an international peace conference in Shannon organised by Pana which has, over the last 20 years, developed strong links with British CND, Scottish CND and CND Cymru. They represent all that is best among the British, Scottish and Welsh people. It is their values and their vision that gives hope for the possibility of a great future for the UK shorn of its imperial culture either in what remains of the British empire or the emerging European empire.”

Corbyn has, for his entire political life, been a supporter of CND and its values. He was re-elected Labour leader not because he is a decent, honest and humble man (which he is) but because he leads a movement, not just a political party.

It is a movement that wants, among other things, a real national health service (the greatest achievement of the historic 1945 Labour government), rather than the continuation of Britain’s imperial tradition of a commitment to perpetual war and the renewal of the Trident nuclear programme as advocated by the current ruling parties of Tories and New Labour.

If Corbyn becomes prime minister it will be because of a deep and fundamental change in the values of the British people.

So can that happen? The prime minister, Theresa May, has made it clear she is prepared to kill millions of people with the Trident missile system. She will no doubt have the total support of the war-loving neoliberal corporate media. Current polls show that in an election she would win relatively easily.

So what would Corbyn have to do to defeat the Tories?

First, he had to become the undisputed leader of Labour and his second victory went a long way to achieving that . . . While the internal attacks on Corbyn will not end, the marginalisation of the Blairites will accelerate and consolidate the unification of Labour under Corbyn in its fight against the Tories.

Corbyn’s decision to accept the democratic decision of the British people to reject membership of the emerging European empire and its emerging European army has been crystal clear. It is a decision that will go a long way to regaining the support of those voters who shifted to Ukip.

In Scotland, the SNP will more than likely continue to dominate, but would be far less antagonistic to a Corbyn-led Labour. If they work together in the first-past-the-post system, they could put the final nail in the coffin of Tory Scotland and maximise the number of MPs for both parties. After all, with a Corbyn-led government, the SNP understand that it is their best chance of a second independence referendum.

While there is no doubt that decades of Thatcher/Blair senseless warmongering and neoliberalism remains popular, especially among those that benefited from it . . . the sustained attacks on the social system, the massive and growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of billionaires is losing its appeal among a growing number of ordinary people. They would prefer a more equitable taxation system, a better-funded NHS and an end to perpetual war. And why not?

So, will Corbyn become the next British prime minister? It is now a realistic option . . .The British people may decide that even if they do not support everything Corbyn stands for, they will agree to a change – in practice more of a Harold Wilson than a Clement Attlee transformation.

Anyway, I put a bet on that the Brexit side would triumph in the recent referendum. My only regret now is that I did not put more money on it.

Come the British election I will not make that mistake again: my money is on Corbyn.

With thanks for this lead to Felicity Arbuthnot

 

 

 

 

A viewer responds to the Marr interview: “I want this man as prime minister!”

Labour Party membership (517,000 members in March 2017) is rapidly increasing after the general election was announced. Before:

Yesterday a Wimbledon reader forwarded an email message received from her friend: “Hope you all saw Jeremy Corbyn on Marr this morning.  If not, DO catch up on i-player.  But I fear for how it’ll be reported in the press”.

The Guardian’s John Crace was flippant/facetious and even-handedly belittled the other contributors. Dan Bloom in the Mirror was thoughtful and informative, itemising three things we learn and three things we didn’t and yet again this paper made available a link to the full transcript. The Mail and Times cherry-picked and hoped to score points on Trident/security/NATO.

Social media snapshot:

Corbyn’s calmness in the face of Marr’s questions, on both foreign and domestic policy was commended by many Twitter users:

Firmly but genially Jeremy Corbyn restrained Andrew Marr’s impetuous interruptions and calmed him down when he ‘jumped in too quickly’. Some appealing ‘soundbites’ include a wish to:

  • reduce pay ratios in the public and private sectors;
  • ensures universal access to good quality housing, healthcare and education;
  • tariff-free trade access to the EU;
  • investment bank to increase manufacturing jobs
  • work out an immigration system
  • and confer with supportive MEPs and colleagues who head EU states (below).

He appears to be the only prime ministerial candidate remarkable for stability, poise, honesty, patience, maturity and goodwill to all – how many more will echo the wish voiced earlier: “I want this man as prime minister!” ?

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Two social media discoveries:

@ReclaimTheNews

Helping to get Labour’s General Election messages out and Jeremy Corbyn into No 10. Multiple contributors. #WeAreHisMedia #JC4PM #VoteLabour

CorbynSupporters50+

@corbyn50plus

The media claim that older voters don’t vote Labour and won’t like Corbyn. Let’s get together to share the over 50s message and show them how wrong they are.

facebook.com/groups/7909425…

 

 

 

 

Corbyn press interview: enlightened self-interest, inequality, housing policy and privatisation

From our archive: Jeremy Corbyn talks to the Huffington Post UK 

Extracts:

“Inequality is a terrible waste of time, a waste of people’s resources. Low ages are counter-intuitive to an expanding economy, inefficient. You pay more in wages, get more in in tax, you get people living a higher standard, you get more money. It’s a kind of circle.”

Interviewer Paul Waugh asked how Corbyn could appeal to the Tory voters in the south and in marginal seats that he needs to win an election. Would  he appeal to their self-interest or just tell them Labour cares more than the other parties?

“There is a self interest in voting for a society where there is health care for all, where there’s a mental health service for all, where there is education service for all,” he replies.

“And above all a housing policy that doesn’t end up with young people staying in their parents’ home until their 30s or 40s because they can’t afford to rent, they can’t have a council place, they can’t afford to buy.

“I absolutely get it on housing. I represent a community that is being socially cleansed. Socially cleansed of people who rely, often in work, on housing benefit to survive. The benefit cap prevents them staying they have to move out and the whole area churns, children leave school they have to go somewhere else.

“So what do we do about housing? One, recognise there is a huge housing shortage. Two, recognise that there a lot of deliberately empty properties through land banking. Three, that the sale of council housing and housing association properties is creating a crisis as deep as created by Right to Buy by Margaret Thatcher.

“In the borough we are in the moment, if the Conservative proposals go through on forced sale, we will be forced to sell 6,000 properties when there are probably 10 to 15,000 families in desperate housing need, it makes no sense at all.”

“My priorities are one, invest in council housing with lifetime tenancies. Two, regulate the private rented sector on quality on length of tenure and in areas of high rent levels like London there has to be maximum rent levels put in by region or by income level there’s got to be an affordability there. Germany has a very large private rented sector, it has long term investment, it is fully regulated.”

Privatisation

“So my message to them is: think about the kind of world the Conservatives are creating where the disposing of state assets, shrinking the state and in the end you and your children are going to have problems. And adult social care may not be available for those that desperately need it. If we want to live in the kind of decent, cohesive society that I think everybody aspires to, then listen to what we are saying and think about it.

 

 

 

 

‘A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party’, by Dr David Hookes, on behalf of Scientists for Global Responsibility  

Dr Hookes opened by saying that Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an independent UK-based membership organisation of hundreds of natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. Its members promote science, design and technology that contribute to peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability. SGR’s work is focused on four main issues: security and disarmament, climate change and energy, including nuclear power; who controls science and technology and emerging technologies.

Extracts from his introduction:  

Our view is that science and technology can be used to help implement the transformation of the socio-economic system on a global basis to create a cooperative, pluralist commonwealth based on fairness, mutuality and equality. In this economy humanity lives within ecological limits, now more commonly known as planetary boundaries.

One key to the long-term survival of industrial society is to develop a low carbon energy supply to avoid catastrophic climate change. This will involve technologies which harness renewable energy in all its forms (including solar, wind, waves, hydro, bioenergy, tidal, geothermal). Energy storage technologies will also be essential to help deal with problems of variability and intermittency, and some contribution from digital systems, that is, computers and digital instrumentation will be important in integrating these various sources of energy into smart local and national grids.

A background to this renewable energy revolution is that about 10,000 times more solar energy falls on the earth than we at present require for all our energy uses. For instance, a small patch of the Sahara, 100×100 square kilometres could supply all of Europe’s.

To read the submission click on this link: A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party David Hookes

Profile: David Hookes is a member of the Labour Party and a life-long trade unionist and socialist. He was born into a working class family close to the Liverpool dock road. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge University, he received a BA in Natural Sciences with a major in Physics. Being dissatisfied with the fact that there were so many conceptual problems in Physics, such as the interpretation of quantum mechanics and the unexplained constancy of the velocity of light in Special Relativity, Dr. Hookes decided to switch his studies. He obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology at Kings College, London University, with a thesis on the molecular structure of bio-membranes. He then spent a year in Germany as a post-doctoral fellow of the Von Humboldt Foundation and carried out, inter alia, theoretical work on the transport properties of bio-membranes. Back in England, Dr. Hookes was appointed Head of Physics at Kilburn Polytechnic. Some years later, he decided to take an MSc in Digital Electronic Engineering at the University of Westminster. As a result, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Electronic Engineering at Coventry University, where he researched bio-sensors, robot tactile-sensing, and computer-interactive educational technology. This led to his developing a ‘Physics-is-Fun’ workstation. After his retirement, he became an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Liverpool University’s Computer Science Department. His present research interests are: how to save the planet from the threat of global warming; renewable energy technologies; application of ideas from physics to political economy and computer networks; computer-interactive educational technology; and foundational problems of physics. He was a founder member of The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) and a member of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (SANA).

 

 

 

Summarising Tom Colclough’s message: Corbyn and most importantly his vision, must win

Tom Colclough has insisted that despite portrayals of Corbynistas as reckless ideologues, and yes, despite a flurry of bad polls, it is clear to him why Corbyn and most importantly, his vision, must win.

He adds that Labour under Corbyn’s stewardship hasn’t been the catastrophe that many in the parliamentary Labour party wished it to be, no matter how hard they tried to make it so.

Stopping the Tories and their myriad of welfare cuts during this parliament, or forcing the U-turn on a forced academisation programme (Ed: and forensic questioning on PMQs) has been opposition worthy of the name.

Corbyn and to a large part his shadow chancellor John McDonnell have turned the tanker around to face these issues head on. Before Corbyn’s election Harriet Harman was dancing on the pinhead of the welfare bill whilst Chris Leslie was an impotent shadow chancellor.

corbyn-rally

Corbyn successfully reclaimed Labour’s voice and begun reupholstering the party, from top to bottom. Turning a party around in the aftermath of an election that haemorrhaged votes nationwide takes time and support. Labour’s resounding victories in several Parliamentary by-elections and mayoralties since were bitter pills to swallow for Corbyn’s enemies, inside and outside the PLP.

Undeterred, Jeremy Corbyn continued to inspire thousands into becoming Labour members. It is now the largest party in Europe. Of course this is no arbiter of governing ability, but it is a mass resource that tapped into, can help the party reach into corners that others simply cannot.

Now, here is the important bit. Derailing this progress now – which is what removing Corbyn would do – would see the air in the chests of thousands of new members sucked out and their potential contributions curtailed. All that will be left would be a vacuum.

Those who would fill it are those still wanting to walk down the middle of a road that has long since been diverted.

The dynamic of politics as we know it is changing. Labour under Corbyn can make progress, but he needs time, and the support from the PLP that he deserves.

 

 

 

 

Corbynomics 3: “Someone had to come out fighting and that someone was Jeremy Corbyn”

An overlooked draft – still well worth belatedly putting on record. 

Taking up the theme covered by Professor Prem Sikka, William Keegan once wrote in the Guardian: “Someone had to come out fighting, and that someone was Jeremy Corbyn . . . Until Corbyn came along, Labour was like a rabbit in the headlights on the subject of austerity”.

w-keeganWilliam Keegan, who worked in the Bank of England Economics Intelligence Department, as assistant to the Bank’s Governor, then Economics Editor of The Observer and is now their Senior Economics Commentator, continued: 

“Students of the cynical, shifty but politically adept George Osborne know that his approach has been to acquiesce, in opposition, in what the Labour government did, then to try to move the so-called “centre ground” to the right when he himself arrived in government.

“The northern powerhouse and manifesto promises about electrification? Forget it! The casual way in which he reneged within days on the Conservative manifesto “commitment” to impose a ceiling on old people’s bills in care homes was outrageous. The attack on the poor in his budget – on which the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies provided chapter and verse – was so brazen that someone had to come out fighting, and that someone was Jeremy Corbyn”. 

In August 2015, David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, and fortyone economists, made public their support for Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, dismissing claims that they are extreme:

“The accusation is widely made that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have moved to the extreme left on economic policy. But this is not supported by the candidate’s statements or policies. His opposition to austerity is actually mainstream economics, even backed by the conservative IMF. He aims to boost growth and prosperity.”

Keegan continues: “[T]he idea (is) that austerity is required in order not to cheat future generations. The truth is that it is cutting back on public sector investment, which can be financed at negligible interest rates, that actually penalises future generations.

Corbyn had written: “Parliament can feel like living in a time warp at the best of times, but this government is not just replaying 2010, but taking us back to 1979: ideologically committed to rolling back the state, attacking workers’ rights and trade union protection, selling off public assets, and extending the sell off to social housing. This agenda militates against everything the Chancellor says he wants to achieve. If you want to revive manufacturing and rebalance the economy, you need a strategic state leading the way.”

John McDonnell MP, shadow chancellor, said that privatisation had been “a confidence trick”. He said: “Privatisation over the last four decades has been a history of the British people being robbed and the spivs snatching up the public assets being given the licence to print money. From the earliest privatisations of water, energy and rail to the PFI schemes from the last decade, it has been one long confidence trick. Under a Corbyn Labour government this shameful era of governments and ministers colluding in the picking of the taxpayers’ pockets will be brought to an abrupt end. 

“Let’s also make it absolutely clear to any speculators in the City looking to make a fast buck at the taxpayers’ expense that if any of these assets are sold by Osborne under their value, a future Corbyn-led Labour government will reserve the right to bring them back into public ownership with either no compensation or with any undervaluation deducted from any compensation for renationalisation.”

 

 

 

Corbynomics 2: hope of a New Deal for low-paid workers

Highlights from a Guardian article by Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting (University of Essex, below right)

Corbyn has rejected the trickle-down economic theory favoured by the Conservatives and New Labour.

prem-sikka-3The liberal economist JK Galbraith likened it to the “horse-and-sparrow theory”, which argued that if you continue to feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. Well, the sparrows have seen their share of the economy shrink.

A key strand of Corbyn’s policies is to strengthen workers’ ability to secure a larger share of the wealth generated by their own brawn, brain and skills. Towards this end, Corbyn has promised to repeal anti-trade union laws and promote collective bargaining by giving employees the right to organise through a union and negotiate their pay, terms and conditions at work.

Any mention of “collective bargaining” is likely to send neoliberals into convulsions even though big business has been using collective bargaining for decades to advance its interests. Banks, supermarkets, phone, gas, water, electricity and other companies collectively negotiate with governments to secure their economic interests. Finance directors of the 100 largest UK-listed companies, known as The 100 Group, pool their resources to secure advantages by shaping consumer protection, tax, regulation, competition, trade and other government policies. If big business is able to engage in collective bargaining, it is only fair that workers should also be enabled by law to collectively advance their interests.

Boosting workers’ share of GDP seems to be a key part of Corbyn’s policies, as without adequate purchasing power people cannot stimulate the economy

With this in mind, Corbyn advocates wage councils to set working conditions, a decent living wage and the abolition of zero-hours contracts to end the appalling insecurity caused by such working arrangements. Public sector workers have faced wage freezes and cuts in their real wages since 2008. They too have family responsibilities and Corbyn has promised to provide “an inflation-plus pay rise for public sector workers”. He has called for an end to workplace discrimination by requiring firms to publish data about the gender pay gap.

Further changes to dialogue about a division of the economic cake come through proposals to change corporate governance. Corbyn particularly wants to enact measures that would prevent directors and shareholders from extracting cash and then dumping companies, leaving employees, pension scheme members and taxpayers to pick up the tab. In the coming days we may well hear more about how workers and other stakeholders are to be represented on the boards of large companies, together with details of stakeholder votes on limiting excessive executive remuneration.

Jobs and prospects of decent pay would be boosted by investment in infrastructure and new industries. Labour has promised to create a new national investment bank and invest £500bn to reinvigorate the economy.

The burden of debt on young people and their families would be reduced by the abolition of tuition fees. This would enable many to start businesses and join the home ownership ladder, which is an increasingly distant dream for many.

Corbyn has been upfront about how various financial measures are to be funded. These include a marginal rate of 50% on taxable incomes above £150,000 and an increase in corporation tax rate. A reversal of the £15bn corporation tax cut announced by the chancellor in March alone would fund the abolition of the £10bn tuition fee.

In a relatively short time, Corbyn has laid foundations of a New Deal that would ensure economic gains are shared more equitably. Of course, lots more needs to be done – and the media can play a vital role in stimulating the debate rather than obsessing over personalities.