Below is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Telford.
It’s a real pleasure to be here in Telford in my home county of Shropshire where I first started campaigning for a better society and I’ve never stopped! And what’s inspiring is that I see that same passion in young people today who are campaigning in this general election.
Since we began our campaign last week thousands of people have come to events like this, have gone out door knocking, and have been spreading Labour’s message of hope on social media. The atmosphere is electric. Because we all know this election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country and tear down the barriers that are holding people back.
A chance to rebuild our NHS, schools and police by taxing those at the top to properly fund services for everyone. And a chance to tackle the climate emergency, with a Green Industrial Revolution at the very heart of our transformation of Britain.
In this election, Labour is putting forward the most radical and far-reaching plan for real change in our lifetimes. But I know we have to work to win people’s trust. Because for all the excitement here, many people in our country have grown weary of politics. They’ve lost faith that politics can change anything that actually affects their lives. I understand that.
Let’s be honest, Westminster hasn’t covered itself in glory recently. The childish insults, the rowdy MPs, the weird rules – it’s all a long way from the reality of people’s daily lives.
If you’re working long hours for wages that barely cover your bills, food and rent and nothing ever changes, you’re right to feel frustrated with the political system. It isn’t working for you.
Politics should be about your life, your community, your job – the issues you face every day of the week. For me, real politics isn’t about shouting matches in parliament. I’m not interested. I don’t do personal attacks.
For me, real politics – the politics I stand for – is about sharing power and wealth with people who don’t have a lot of money and don’t have friends in high places – so they can take control of their own lives. My job as leader, and my party’s task, is to champion those people, and bring about real change.
Like here in Telford where a fantastic local community campaign, the local Labour Party and Katrina are fighting the closure of your women and children’s centre and the downgrading of the A&E department. To me, that’s real politics – bringing people together to stand up for their community. That’s why I became an MP.
I’ve never thought MPs are special individuals with unique wisdom. It’s not supposed to be a glamorous job. It’s a platform for your community, not for yourself. That’s how I see it.
When I was elected leader of the Labour Party, I was proud to have the chance to extend that principle into everything we do. To put Labour at the heart of communities standing alongside the people we seek to represent.
And I was proud to see our party grow into not just the biggest in Britain, but the biggest in Western Europe, with half a million members determined to put wealth and power in the hands of the many and build a fairer country that cares for all.
You know, my view of leadership is different from the one people are used to. Yes I believe leaders should have clear principles that people can trust, and the strength and commitment not to be driven off course. You have to stand for something. But leaders must also trust others to play their part.
Think of it like this: a good leader doesn’t just barge through a door and let it swing back in the faces of those following behind. A good leader holds open the door for others to walk through. Because everyone has a contribution to make.
So when I talk about real change, that isn’t something that will be done to you. It’s something that can only be done with you. So if you, the British people, elect a Labour government on 12 December, I will be proud to be your Prime Minister. Because I will be a very different kind of Prime Minister.
Not the kind of Prime Minister who believes he was born to rule. Not the kind who thinks politics is a game. But the kind of Prime Minister who only seeks power in order to share power. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about all of us.
And together, we can go beyond defending the gains made by previous generations. It’s time we started building a country fit for the next generation. Where young people don’t fear the future, but look forward with confidence and hope. That’s within our grasp in this election. That’s what we are absolutely determined to achieve.
Because look at what’s happened to our country in the last few years: more children and pensioners in poverty, more people sleeping on the streets, British citizens who have lived here for decades deported from their own country.
And more and more people being forced into dependence on food banks, by the cruel policy of Universal Credit – as a damning report from the Trussell Trust yesterday exposed.
And it’s not just people on the sharpest end of austerity who are feeling its impact. It’s all those struggling to make ends meet, those who can’t afford to buy their first home, those who never quite have enough left over to save for a holiday, those who have to fork out ever more on rail fares as the service gets worse.
Just imagine how Britain could be if we had a Labour government, committed to building a fairer and more prosperous country that works for the many, not the few. That future is ours to make.
I want a Labour government to be judged by whether it changes people’s lives for the better after five years. Judge us on the real change we deliver the concrete improvements to the lives of millions of people.
Here’s how you’ll be able to judge the success of the next Labour government:
- Judge us on whether in-work poverty still exists in five years’ time.
- Judge us on whether people are still sleeping rough after five years of a Labour government.
- Judge us on whether proud women and men are still having to depend on food banks in five years’ time.
- Judge us on whether 1.4 million older people are still not getting the help they need after five years of Labour.
- Judge us on whether tuition fees have been scrapped for all students so that no one is priced out of education.
- Judge us on whether we’ve built hundreds of thousands of genuinely affordable homes, so that decent and secure housing is within the reach of everybody.
- Judge us on whether patients are still waiting more than four hours in A&E, and tens of thousands are waiting months for cancer treatment.
- Judge us on whether we’ve got Brexit sorted within six months so we can get on with delivering the real change that Britain needs.
- Judge us on whether primary school children – including more than 2,500 children here in Telford – are still learning in class sizes of larger than 30 after five years of a Labour government.
- Judge us on whether we’ve unleashed a Green Industrial Revolution, created hundreds of thousands of green energy jobs in the communities that need them most and significantly reduced our greenhouse emissions.
We don’t have time to waste. It frustrates me every day in parliament that we’re not taking action now on all these pressing needs and demands of our time. Because Labour has the policies to deal with all of them.
And isn’t it telling that Conservative candidates in this election have been told by Tory HQ that they’re not allowed to pledge to tackle the climate emergency? They’re not allowed to pledge not to privatise our NHS. They’re not allowed to pledge not to sell out our NHS in a trade deal with Donald Trump.
Well let’s make our own pledge, all of us together. We pledge that we will never let them put a price tag on our NHS. We’ll never let them send £500m a week of NHS money to big US drugs corporations. We’ll never let Donald Trump get his hands on our National Health Service. Because our NHS is not for sale.
But you know there is something that Conservative candidates are allowed to pledge. Tory HQ says they can pledge to defend shooting animals for sport. Doesn’t that tell you all you need to know about the Conservatives?
Actually there is one more thing you need to know. They shamefully seem to think the victims of the Grenfell fire died because they didn’t have the common sense to save themselves. I’ll tell you what’s common sense:
Don’t put flammable cladding on people’s homes. That’s common sense. Don’t close fire stations and don’t cut fire fighters. That’s common sense. And don’t ignore residents when they tell you their home is a death trap.
And what this all comes back to is what I was talking about earlier: leadership. Do you want leaders who think they’re above us all? Who think the rules they make for everyone else don’t apply to them? Or is good leadership really about listening as well as talking?
I’ve spent much of my life travelling around the country and the world listening to people. That’s how you learn about the world as people actually experience it – their struggles and their hopes, their dreams and their frustrations. And that’s why I believe that good leadership is about compassion and understanding not ego.
I want to lead a government that’s on your side. That puts power and wealth into your hands. I want to lead a government that works for you.
Friends, this election is a once in a generation chance. Together we will transform our country so that no one is held back and no community is left behind. It’s time for real change.