Corbyn tells British Labour Party conference he will deliver "socialism of the 21st century"

Corbyn tells British Labour Party conference he will deliver "socialism of the 21st century"

Jeremy Corbyn has promised to deliver "the socialism of the 21st century" as he insisted that under his leadership, Labour will be a party not only of protest but also of power.

In a warmly received speech to Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool days after being re-elected as leader, Mr Corbyn urged his fractured party to "end the trench warfare" and unite to take on the Conservatives for a general election which he said could come as early as next year.

But he risked stoking differences within his own ranks over immigration after making clear that he will not make cutting numbers of migrants an objective, despite calls from MPs including Andy Burnham - who announced his resignation as shadow home secretary - to respond to concerns expressed by voters in the EU referendum.

At the end of a conference which has seen Labour dip as low as 26% in the polls, Mr Corbyn warned that voters will not be won over by a party they see as divided and urged his critics to accept the result of the election in which he defeated challenger Owen Smith by a convincing 62%-38% margin.

Following calls from London Mayor Sadiq Khan and deputy leader Tom Watson for the party to focus on winning back power, Mr Corbyn insisted that he recognised the need to reach out beyond Labour’s core support to win over groups including middle-income earners, the self-employed and those concerned about the impact of migration.

"Our party is about campaigning and it’s about protest too, but most of all it’s about winning power in local and national government to deliver the real change our country so desperately needs," he said.

"That’s why the central task of the whole Labour Party must be to rebuild trust and support to win the next general election and form the next government. That is the government I am determined to lead to win power to change Britain for the benefit of working people."

Setting out the 10 pledges which will form the framework of Labour’s platform at the next election, Mr Corbyn said he was offering "greater equality of wealth and income, but also of power".

Promises included a "real living wage" worth £10 an hour or more, a new National Education Service to be funded by levies on business, a £500 billion National Investment Bank, the renationalisation of railways, one million new homes and a foreign policy with "peace and justice at its heart".

Mr Corbyn said that the pledges were "not the Ten Commandments" and would be open to further consultation.

But he said they showed "the direction of change we are determined to take - and the outline of a programme to rebuild and transform Britain".

The Labour leader said: "We know how great this country could be for all its people with a new political and economic settlement, with new forms of democratic public ownership, driven by investment in the technology and industries of the future, with decent jobs, education and housing for all, with local services run by and for people, not outsourced to faceless corporations.

"That’s not backward-looking - it’s the very opposite. It’s the socialism of the 21st century."

Mr Corbyn told delegates: "Our job is now to win over the unconvinced to our vision. Only that way can we secure the Labour government we need.

"And let’s be frank, no-one will be convinced of a vision promoted by a divided party.

"We all agree on that, so I ask each and every one of you, accept the decision of the members, end the trench warfare and work together to take on the Tories.

"Anything else is a luxury that the millions of people who depend on Labour cannot afford."

In an hour-long speech that was light on policy announcements, Mr Corbyn said a Labour government would lift a cap preventing local authorities from borrowing against their housing stock, which he said would allow them to build an extra 60,000 council homes a year.

And he confirmed that the proposed National Education Service would be paid for by businesses paying "a little more in tax", including a previously announced 1.5% hike in corporation tax to pay for grants and allowances for college and university students.

Labour would borrow at historically low rates to fund a National Investment Bank to support infrastructure projects such as faster broadband, new railways, housing, energy and green technologies.

"A country that doesn’t invest is a country that has given up, that has taken the path of managed decline," said Mr Corbyn. "A Labour government will never accept second best for Britain."

He promised a crackdown on tax-dodging companies and said he would review tax and social security arrangements for the self-employed and ensure that successful innovators have access to finance.

And he confirmed plans for a £160 million arts pupil premium for schools in England and Wales to give every child the chance to learn a musical instrument.

Mr Corbyn took to the stage dressed in a black suit and red tie, to chants from supporters of "Jez we can".

In a reference to the "Traingate" controversy over his claim to be unable to find a seat on a long-distance journey, Mr Corbyn joked that while the hall looked full to him, "Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats".

Following a series of rows about abuse and anti-Semitism, he said the party would take "firm action" against intimidation and vowed to fight against "prejudice and hatred of Jewish people".

Mr Corbyn said that, with 150,000 new members joining over the summer, Labour was now western Europe’s largest political party. And he insisted that the influx of recruits was not a threat but "a vast democratic resource".

The growth in supporters had grown out of "a thirst for a new kind of politics and a conviction that the old way of running the economy and the country isn’t delivering for more and more people", he said.

And he added: "It’s no good harking back to the tired old economic and political fixes of 20 years ago, because they won’t work any more. The old model is broken. We’re in a new era that demands a politics and economics that meets the needs of our own time."

Mr Corbyn dismissed Prime Minister Theresa May’s claim to be fighting the "inequalities and burning injustices" of modern Britain, insisting: "Even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk.

"This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government, repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit."

He asked: "Who seriously believes that the Tories could ever stand up to the privileged few? They are the party of the privileged few, funded by the privileged few for the benefit of the privileged few."

Mr Corbyn praised predecessor Gordon Brown’s decision to set up a £50 million Migrant Impact Fund to help communities affected by migration, which he said a Labour government would revive, funded by levies on visas and citizenship applications.

But he made no mention of three-time election winner Tony Blair, though he told delegates that the Chilcot report into the Iraq War showed he was right to apologise for Britain’s involvement in the military action.

At the end of his speech, Mr Corbyn was joined on stage by a choir, several of whom raised their clenched fists as they sang the traditional end-of-conference anthem The Red Flag.

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