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Corbyn’s conference speech takes cue from Christians in his party

27 September 2018


Jeremy Corbyn endorses Christians on the Left’s #LoveYourCLP campaign, at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, on Sunday

Jeremy Corbyn endorses Christians on the Left’s #LoveYourCLP campaign, at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, on Sunday

THE leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, used his keynote conference speech on Wednesday to endorse the Archbishop of Canterbury’s calls for radical tax reform.

Mr Corbyn said that he “listened carefully” to Archbishop Welby’s comments after the publication of a report by the Institute for Public Policy’s (IPPR) Commission on Economic Justice (News, 7 September). He quoted the report: “Economic justice needs to be hard-wired into the way the economy works.”

Mr Corbyn went on to tell the Labour conference, in Liverpool, that an end to “greed-is-good” capitalism was needed. He said: “People in this country know that the old way of running things isn’t working any more. And unless we offer radical solutions, others will fill the gap with the politics of blame and division.”

He also spoke about climate change, saying that “there is no bigger threat facing humanity”. He told delegates: “We only have one planet, so we must re-engage with countries seeking to walk away from Paris. But we must also lead by example.”

Mr Corbyn said that Labour would kick-start a “Green Jobs Revolution” that will “help tackle climate change, provide sustainable energy for the future, and create skilled jobs in every nation and region of the UK”.

He said that this would entail a “programme of investment and transformation to achieve a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 will create over 400,000 skilled jobs”.

At the conference, Mr Corbyn also endorsed Christians on the Left’s set of “ten commandments”, which seek to encourage Labour members “to love their Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs)”. The commandments include; “Be quick to listen”; “Be slow to speak”; and, more light-heartedly, “Bring biscuits”.

Chrisitans on the Left said that it had launched the campaign #LoveYourCLP to prevent Labour from becoming a “nasty party”, after recent internal rows over Brexit and anti-Semitism (News, 7 September).

Mr Corbyn was presented with the new commandments at the Labour Party Conference church service, held at St James’s, Liverpool, on Sunday. He said that he was “happy” to endorse the rules.

PAJeremy Corbyn delivers his keynote speech on Wednesday

In his conference speech, he seemed to draw on the theme of the commandments: “We need to foster a much greater culture of tolerance. An end to abuse, online and in person. We must learn to listen a bit more, and shout a lot less.”

The director of Christians on the Left, Louise Davies, said: “Christians on the Left is part of the Labour movement, and we really welcome the debates the party is having. But we want those debates to take place in a spirit of unity and mutual respect.

“That’s what these ‘ten commandments’ are all about. They are lighthearted, but they make a serious point. It starts with us. We have to model the behaviour we want to see in others. That way, we can together focus on promoting equality and social justice.”

The ten commandments are: “Bring biscuits; be a Twitter angel; disagree well; be quick to listen; be slow to speak; encourage others; buy the first round; see the good in everyone; keep the faith; and choose love.”

The group’s communications director, Daniel May-Miller, said: “Jesus called us to love our neighbours; so, if we take this commandment seriously, then shouldn’t we be the ones to bring the snacks?”

In a video released with the launch of the campaign, Tom Bray said: #LoveYourCLP is a movement to bring about transformation in the way your local CLP speaks, acts, and works. It is about bringing Jesus’s character into local politics. It is about asking God to have an impact on, and change the atmosphere in, your constituency. It means bringing love, hope, unity, and enthusiasm to your CLP. . .

“We believe that, through living out Jesus’s simple words to love your neighbour, we can have a big impact on the Labour Party.”

Church Action for Tax Justice welcomed a speech by the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, on Monday. Mr McDonnell urged companies to sign up to the Fair Tax Mark, “demonstrating transparently that they pay their fair share of taxes”.

Mr McDonnell also reflected on Archbishop Welby’s comments and the IPPR report published this month.

Mr McDonnell joked: “Just a few words of advice though, Archbishop: When they get around to calling you a Marxist, I’ll give you some tips on how to handle it.”

 Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA ImagesJeremy Corbyn delivers the conference keynote speech on Wednesday

Labour leader discloses pivate meeting with Welby

JEREMY CORBYN told Labour Party supporters on Sunday that he had met the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss “social justice and inequality” by Simon Cawdell.

He said that he held a meeting with Archbishop Welby just weeks before the Archbishop made a series of interventions on the state of the nation.

The discussions between the two men were disclosed by Mr Corbyn at a conference fringe event at St James in the City, Liverpool, on Sunday, organised by Christians on the Left.

“I had a very interesting meeting with Justin Welby a couple of months ago, and we discussed many things about social justice and inequality within our society,” Mr Corbyn said.

He said that he and Archbishop Welby spoke of a common desire to give “everyone a chance”, especially the young.

“We can never pass by on the other side when somebody has problems,” he said. “That approach to the whole person and the whole community is so important.

“One thing that really annoys me is the way that, in my own view, our over-competitive education system starts disregarding troubled 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds who are under-achieving in schools for many, many, many reasons.

“They get disregarded, they then get suspended, and they then get removed from school, and they then end up in a PRU [Pupil Referral Unit), and . . . a whole disproportionate number of those end up on the criminal-justice system, or in mental-health institutions.”

Mr Corbyn continued: “Our approach on education, which Angela [Rayner] is leading us on, is very much in the direction of the whole school, the whole child, and the whole community, as with housing and everything else.”

During the meeting, Mr Corbyn praised the work of churches and mosques to combat poverty, saying that, in his own constituency, he had seen how Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Muslims had co-operated to feed and give shelter to the homeless.

He also thanked Stephen Timms, the Labour MP for East Ham, for his work liaising with Christian and Jewish groups on behalf of the Labour Party.

Listen to Adam Becket talk more about this story on the Church Times Podcast:

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