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Corbyn hails a Town Hall ‘that is showing the way’

Labour leader welcomes new era of ‘municipal socialism’ at launch of May elections manifesto

30 March, 2018 — By Tom Foot

The Labour manifesto launch

JEREMY Corbyn hailed a new era of “municipal socialism” as he unveiled Islington Labour’s manifesto on Sunday.

The Labour leader told a hall full of activists in Tiltman Place, off Horn­sey Road, how he wanted councils to use local government powers to further socialist aims.

Collective purchasing power could be used to tackle “the social injustice that exists in this borough”, he said.

“We will use our public purchasing power to ensure good-quality working conditions, ensure the Living Wage, ensure apprenticeships for all, and ensure there is no gender pay gap.

“From bringing in the Living Wage to development of council housing, Islington Council is showing the way. That is why I’m proud to endorse this manifesto because we have huge issues that we face. Islington Council, despite all the problems of funding, has shown what an imaginative council can achieve.”

Mr Corbyn reiterated his demands for the visitor centre at the closed Holloway Prison to be used as a temporary shelter for street sleepers. This idea has already been rejected by the justice secretary, but Mr Corbyn said: “I say to the government: It’s going to take a while, there’s going to be a lot of argument about this site. There is a big visitor centre there – use it now as a hostel. Show you care about homeless people. We want that land and that space to house people who are at the moment living in overcrowded conditions.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the manifesto launch

The Ministry of Justice is looking for developers to buy the prison site. The council has said at least 50 per cent of homes built there should be “affordable”.

On housing, Mr Corbyn said: “If we can’t spend time listening to people that are totally up against it in their lives, then we are nothing.

“One person I was speaking to this week was beside herself with stress and anxiety. She had two boys, unable to move, to breathe, to do their homework, unable to lead a decent and comfortable existence. She is securely housed, yes, but in totally inadequate accommodation.

“Some people are paying more than half of their take-home pay on rent. They say: ‘What is it about modern Britain? I work hard, but I’m getting priced out and driven out of a community I’ve lived in all my life and I love very much.’

“Our council’s efforts to build council housing I endorse and admire. Our council’s efforts to introduce a licensing system for private landlords, I fully endorse. A Labour government will go about ending homelessness and rough sleeping. Every council will get the support it needs to build the housing it needs.”

Mr Corbyn sent a message to George Durack, the 94-year-old campaigner whose photograph is in the manifesto, but who spent nine hours waiting to be admitted to the Whittington Hospital, as reported by the Tribune earlier this month.

Mr Corbyn said: “As you know, he’s in hospital and should be out in a few days. George has given his life to the labour movement, trade unions and pensioners. When he was delayed a long time for his admission, did he blame the hospital, did he blame the staff?

“Can we send George a message? Get well soon, George!”

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