Jeremy Corbyn used his first conference speech as Labour leader to send a message to voters: “You don’t have to take what you are given.”
Mr Corbyn rejected Conservative claims that there is “no alternative” to cuts in jobs, public services and the NHS, rising university fees and growing poverty, telling the party’s conference in Brighton: “Our Labour Party says No”.
Just two weeks after being elected party leader in a landslide vote, the Islington North MP, who was welcomed on stage by a standing ovation, declared that he would stand for “a kinder politics, a more caring society”.
He dismissed Tory accusations that he represents a threat to Britain’s security, saying it is the government which threatens the security of tenants in insecure rented homes, carers losing local government support, young people locked out of the housing market, families losing benefits and 2.8 million households forced into debt by stagnant wages.
The veteran left-winger stuck to his guns on the renewal of Trident, declaring he did not believe that spending £100bn on a new generation of nuclear weapons was “the right way forward”.
And he confirmed plans to take railway services back into public ownership as franchises come up for renewal.
However, he said that the party’s policies will be subject to a comprehensive review, with Labour members having “the final say” on what they should be.
Unlike predecessors such as Tony Blair, he said that neither he, his shadow cabinet or Labour MPs would “impose policy or have a veto” on what the membership decides.
After coming under attack for his failure to sing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain commemoration, Mr Corbyn said that his political beliefs were driven by “shared majority British values” and his love of his country.
And he said he wanted to harness the “political earthquake” which brought him into office this summer to build “a society for the majority” in Britain.
Mr Corbyn said the Conservative government existed “to protect the few and tell all the rest of us to accept what what we’re given”, offering tax breaks to the hedge funds which have lavished donations on the Tories since David Cameron became leader, while “cutting jobs ... slashing public services ... vandalising the NHS ... cutting junior doctors’ pay ... reducing care for the elderly ... destroying the hopes of young people for a college education or putting university graduates into massive debt ... putting half a million more people into poverty”.
“They want us to believe there is no alternative,” he said.
“Our Labour Party says No.”
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