Corbyn’s power play: the five big ideas

Split: A recent Survation poll puts support for Labour at 41% and the Conservatives at 37%.

Is he prime minister material? Today, Jeremy Corbyn will address the Labour Party conference in a pitch to be Britain’s next leader. Here are five trump cards which could win over voters.

1/ Nationalisation: Taking industries into public ownership has long been a key policy for Corbyn. The idea has decisive public support too. A YouGov poll found that 60% of people support nationalising railways and 59% want the same for water companies (in both cases only 25% oppose). Corbyn has promised that a Labour government would do both.

2/ Spending: A Labour government would also raise some taxes and increase public spending. Once again, this has wide support. According to 2017 figures, 60% of people support tax increases (in order to boost spending on the NHS, education and social benefits). Likewise, 65% of Britons told YouGov they would “rather the government spends more on public services even if it means higher tax.”

3/ Europe: Yesterday, Labour members backed a motion declaring that Labour must campaign for a second referendum if two things happen. One: Theresa May’s Brexit plan is voted down by Parliament. Two: a general election is not called following this defeat. Corbyn himself is lukewarm about a second referendum, but polling suggests that it could win Labour extra support.

4/ Attacking big business: On Monday, Corbyn’s right-hand man, John McDonnell, slammed corporations for avoiding taxes and pledged to end “vast executive salaries”. This chimes with public opinion. In a 2015 poll, 74% of people agreed that “most of the biggest businesses in the world have dodged taxes, damaged the environment or bought special favours from politicians.” Only 29% thought that “what is good for business is usually good for the rest of society.”

5/ Empowering workers: A policy from this year’s conference is to force UK companies to give 10% of their shares to workers. John McDonnell claims the move will boost pay and incentivise staff. Others have slammed it as a draconian tax on business which would hamper growth. Either way, polls found that 54% of the public support the idea (including a majority of Tory voters).

With this in mind, would Jeremy Corbyn be a good prime minister?

Jez he can?

No, some say. It is easy to pander to public opinion when you are not in power. Things change when you are in office, and Corbyn is not equipped to make the hard decisions that statesmanship requires. Stained by the anti-Semitism row; mistrusted on national security; and pushing economic ideas from the past — he is not prime minister material.

Nonsense, others respond. Corbyn is principled and hard working — qualities that many self-serving MPs lack. Furthermore, after years of austerity and shambolic leadership, Britain faces a crippling decline in living standards and a bleak future for the young and old. We need fresh revolutionary thinking. We need Jeremy Corbyn.

You Decide

  1. Would Jeremy Corbyn make a good prime minister?
  2. Would you want to go into politics?

Activities

  1. What are the three social or political issues that mean the most to you? Write them down in ascending order. Share and discuss with your class. Do you think that modern politicians care about the same issues as you? Why/why not?
  2. Imagine you have been tasked with creating a new political party in Britain. In pairs or small groups think of a snappy name and draw its logo. Write down three of its key policies. Then write a one-minute speech convincing your classmates to vote for your new party.

Some People Say...

“We can create a new kind of politics: kinder, more respectful, but courageous, too.”

Jeremy Corbyn

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
As it stands, there are no plans for a second referendum on Brexit and Labour is not campaigning for one (indeed some within the party believe it is a bad idea). Furthermore, an early general election is not planned, and the only likely scenario which would trigger one would be if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is defeated in Parliament.
What do we not know?
Who would win if a general election were to be called. Theresa May would not contest such a vote, with Boris Johnson the most likely candidate to replace her. Recent polling by The Times found that 19% of people would happily vote for Johnson, while 21% would happily vote for Corbyn. Including those who would reluctantly vote for each, the figures rise to 33% for Johnson and 31% for Corbyn.

Word Watch

Public ownership
When a government owns and operates a company or industry, rather than private shareholders.
Figures
From the National Centre for Social Research.
Voted down
Whatever deal Theresa May manages to secure with the EU must also be ratified in Parliament. This week, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, indicated that Labour MPs would vote down May’s Brexit proposals as they currently stand. It would then only take a handful of rebel Tory MPs to reject the deal.
Suggests
A YouGov poll found that 26% of people would be more likely to vote for Labour if it campaigned for a second referendum. This would translate into 1.5 million extra votes at a general election.
Poll
By YouGov.
Shares
Units of ownership which private companies are split into. Shares are traded on stock markets — if a company or industry is performing well the share price rises.
Majority
Among Conservative voters, 39% thought it was a good idea, compared to 34% who were against.
Mistrusted
A 2015 poll by ORB found that 71% of Britons did not trust Jeremy Corbyn to safeguard national security.

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