The independent London newspaper

Even in defeat, Corbyn’s legacy could outlast June 8

18 May, 2017

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

JEREMY Corbyn stunned his party when he was, against the odds, elected leader in 2015.

This week, he has shown how he plans to change the country.

Labour’s manifesto pledge for major investment in schools, health service, childcare and housing – partly through tax rises – sounds revolutionary in today’s context.

It will no doubt be judged on the final election result next month when most political commentators are predicting a heavy Conservative majority, if not a landslide.

But if the Conservative landslide does not materialise, and Labour loses only 20 or 30 seats, this will not simply land a blow against Theresa May.

In all probability, Corbyn would stay on as leader in a party that has changed course with a new complexion and spirit. That new spirit has been put before the public and it is not going to be washed away overnight.

One strand of the manifesto less likely to be welcomed by residents is Labour’s stubborn commitment to High Speed 2. The first phase of the railway to Birmingham is, at its lowest estimate, going to cost £63billion. That figure could be compared to the £48billion Labour says it would raise through tax increases to fund its manifesto commitments.

But the manifesto does not stop with phase one. It pledges to “complete the HS2 high speed rail line from London through Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, and then into Scotland” and ensuring that “every area gets its fair share of transport investment” by linking up HS2 “with other new investments, such as Crossrail of the North”.

Corbyn has strong relationship with the rail unions RMT, ASLEF and TSSA. The unions support HS2 and new railway lines because more trains mean more jobs. This may be one reason for Corbyn’s Labour continuing its support for a project that was the vision of Lord Andrew Adonis, who resigned the Labour Party whip.

Both Camden MPs Keir Starmer and Tulip Siddiq voted against Labour’s High Speed Rail Bill when it came to Parliament earlier this year knowing the terrible impact it will have on their constituent’s lives.

It all begins in a few weeks time when the bulldozers roll into St James Gardens.

There is much talk about reducing pollution and air quality in London. But in a matter of weeks, at least 60 of the few remaining trees in Euston will be cut down. The public gardens will be sealed off, thousands of bodies exhumed, while an entirely unnecessary 20-year construction project brings hundreds of pollution-chugging HGVs into the borough each day.

Residents continue to show their discontent with increasingly imaginative forms of direct action. We hope they will keep up the fight.

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