Corbyn slams ‘Islington elite’ claim at election campaign launch
Labour leader’s second bid to reach Downing Street in December 12 poll
01 November, 2019 — By Dan Carrier
Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn at Labour’s campaign launch yesterday at the Battersea Arts Centre
THE image of an “Islington elite” looking down their noses at the world is a myth created by property developers, Jeremy Corbyn claimed at the launch of his Labour’s general election campaign yesterday (Thursday).
The Islington North MP was speaking as he embarked on his second bid to reach Downing Street after a rally at the Battersea Arts Centre.
His party agreed to a December 12 general election earlier in the week amid the ongoing Brexit stalemate.
Mr Corbyn had been challenged by a reporter as to whether his voice of the people campaign could be authentic when he came from a borough of “Islington elites”.
“I have said a great deal about wealthy elites who have put their money in tax havens, and you have generously pivoted that to include the London Borough of Islington,” said Mr Corbyn, who first won his parliamentary seat in 1983.
“Don’t run away with media images put forward by property developers.
“The reality is my community has been totally up against it. Whatever you may think about my constituency, almost 40 per cent of the children in my constituency are living in poverty.
“One-third are living in the private rental sector.
“People are terrified of going on Universal Credit because they know the poverty and misery it will cause them.”
Mr Corbyn was joined at the rally by the entire shadow cabinet, including Islington South MP and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry.
He praised Labour-led Islington Council for working to find ways to counter austerity policies and public spending cuts.
“We have our council doing its best to build new housing and its best to deliver crucial services,” he said.
“But its budget has been absolutely slashed by the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition, and then the Conservatives on their own.”
He added that the idea that Labour was somehow supporting an “Islington bubble” which was blind to the country’s needs was a Conservative smokescreen.
Mr Corbyn said: “People are not fooled so easily – they know the Conservatives are the establishment elite – and what the elite are afraid of is paying their taxes.
“This election will be harder and dirtier than ever before. They will throw everything at us because they know we are not afraid to take them on.”
He also thanked Islington residents for placing their trust in him, adding: “My job as an MP is to do my best to represent them and I do with pleasure and honour. I am proud to do my very best to represent them.
“I will carry on. Whatever position I have ever held I have always worked flat-out to represent the people who elect me.”
The 70-year-old now faces a five-week tour of the country ahead of the polls, while Islington’s Labour activists will be encouraged to help out in more marginal constituencies as the vote comes closer.
Labour cabinet councillor Claudia Webbe has pulled out of running for a parliamentary seat. She was the subject of a critical article in the Sunday Times which suggested that Mr Corbyn was allowing his allies to be “parachute” candidates into areas here they had no close ties.
Cllr Webbe announced that she had pulled out of Luton South to focus on Coventry South which she said “was a place I worked, lived and undertook community organising for many years”.
A day later she also withdrew from the selection contest in this seat.