Labour leader unveils new shadow cabinet which confirms left consolidation within the party
LABOUR LEADER JEREMY CORBYN has said that the Labour party’s anti-austerity stance has “changed the terms” of economic debate in the UK, after the softening of UK Government austerity policies in the wake of the country’s vote to leave the EU.
Corbyn, who was re-elected in September with 62 per cent support from his party membership, made the comments at the annual Jimmy Reid lecture in Glasgow’s Govan Old Parish church last night (6 October), where he attacked what he called the “cheapskate economy” which has dominated the UK for decades.
He said: “Labour are now stuck to an anti-austerity policy…this has changed the terms of economic discussion.”
Corbyn also stated that “every responsible economic commentator” now recognised that continued austerity would be detrimental.
The comments come after a Conservative party conference which saw ministers deploy xenophobic rhetoric and calls for a sharp reduction in the number of foreigners living and working in the UK, but also saw Prime Minister Theresa May criticise the “[economically] libertarian right” for failing to recognise the role of the state in economic life, and Chancellor Philip Hammond scaled back on the harshest austerity measures promoted under his predecessor George Osborne.
“Labour are now stuck to an anti-austerity policy…this has changed the terms of economic discussion.” Jeremy Corbyn
Praising the life and example of Jimmy Reid, the Scottish trade union leader who organised the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in protest to protect the ship building industry between 1971-72, Corbyn said that the time had come again to challenge a weakened capitalism with policies of democratic planning in parts of the economy.
He said: “Austerity was always a political choice, not an economic necessity. The Conservatives' targets for government debt the government deficit were always determined by their political choices, not by the needs of the economy. By enforcing austerity, they have helped undermine wages and left our economy and society weaker. Their fiscal policy is now entirely discredited.
“We will increase the spending allocated to local government. This will benefit Scotland, which like elsewhere across the country has seen austerity decimate local government funding. The outcome is 30,000 fewer Scottish local government workers with many, many more jobs under threat as the financial squeeze on local government continues.”
The speech came on the same night as Corbyn re-arranged his shadow cabinet. His choices represent a shift to the left, with anti-trident MP Nia Griffith replacing Clive Lewis as shadow defence secretary after Lewis opted for a multilateral position at the Labour party conference in Liverpool, key Corbyn ally Diane Abbott moving to shadow home secretary and Ex-Liberty director, now Labour Peer, Shami Chakrabarti taking on the shadow attorney general brief.
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