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Jeremy Corbyn Warns U.K. Conservatives to 'Make Way'

Screenshot / YouTube

In a wide-ranging speech delivered Wednesday at the annual Labour Party conference, Jeremy Corbyn appeared more confident than ever—and with good reason. It was the first conference since the June election in which Labour made important gains and rid the conservative Tory Party of its parliamentary majority. Perhaps of even more importance, it was the first party conference in years in which Corbyn’s position was not only unchallenged but celebrated by a growing number of party members as well as his fellow Labour MPs, many of whom had previously attempted to depose him.

On Wednesday, the party’s differences seemed to be finally put to rest as MPs gathered around their leader. Corbyn, whose left-wing manifesto solidified the party’s direction and increased Labour’s popularity in the run-up to the June vote, made even more progressive promises in his keynote speech. Repeatedly riffing on the slogan “For the many, not the few,” he set forth an agenda that ranged from imposing rent controls in major cities and nationalizing utilities such as water and train services to “reskilling” workers displaced from jobs due to automation and responding to global inaction on climate change.

As for the Tories, whose constant squabbling has contributed to British destabilization as the nation attempts to negotiate Brexit from the European Union, Corbyn had a strong message. “For the sake of the country, pull it together—or make way.”

Labour Party aides told media on Tuesday night that party leaders had been meeting with former civil servants to prepare to take power as soon as a favorable general election took place. Although Corbyn has been criticized widely in media for being uninterested in becoming prime minister, that didn’t appear true as he stood triumphantly before party members and reiterated his promises to change the face of British politics. Here is an excerpt from his speech, which you can watch in full above.

I promised you two years ago that we would do politics differently. It’s not always been easy. There’s quite a few who prefer politics the old way. But let me say it again. We will do politics differently.

And the vital word there is “we”. Not just leaders saying things are different, but everyone having the chance to shape our democracy. Our rights as citizens are as important as our rights as consumers. Power devolved to the community, not monopolized in Westminster and Whitehall.

Now let’s take it a stage further – make public services accountable to communities. Business accountable to the public, and politicians truly accountable to those we serve.

Let the next Labour government will transform Britain by genuinely putting power in the hands of the people, the creative, compassionate and committed people of our country.

Corbyn took on U.S. President Donald Trump on a number of fronts, in contrast to current British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has often hesitated to criticize Trump and has continually sought to strengthen her alliance with him. Corbyn called Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement “alarming” and said Trump’s recent belligerent speech at the United Nations General Assembly was “disturbing.” Corbyn continued:

Let’s tone down the rhetoric, and back dialogue and negotiations to wind down the deeply dangerous confrontation over the Korean Peninsula.

And I appeal to the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres to use the authority of his office and go to Washington and Pyongyang to kick start that essential process of dialogue. …

We must be a candid friend to the United States, now more than ever.

The values we share are not served by building walls, banning immigrants on the basis of religion, polluting the planet, or pandering to racism.

And let me say frankly – the speech made by the US President to the United Nations last week was deeply disturbing.

It threatened war and talked of tearing up international agreements.

Devoid of concern for human rights or universal values, it was not the speech of a world leader.

Our government has a responsibility. It cannot meekly go along with this dangerous course. …

If the special relationship means anything, it must mean that we can say to Washington: that way is the wrong way. … So let Britain’s voice be heard loud and clear for peace, justice and cooperation.

Another notable speaker at the Labour Party conference was climate expert Naomi Klein, who had strong words for the U.S. president Tuesday night. Describing Trump as the “merger of all that is noxious’ in politics, culture and the economy,” Klein also shed light on the plight of places such as Puerto Rico that are being affected by disasters fueled by climate change. Watch her full speech below.

After Corbyn’s fiery speech, the conference attendees broke out in song as the word “Hope” flashed in all caps on the pink and red screen behind the party leader.

Natasha Hakimi Zapata
Assistant Editor and Poetry Editor
Natasha Hakimi Zapata holds a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Boston University and both a B.A. in Spanish and a B.A. in English with a creative writing concentration from the University of California, Los…
Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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