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'A commitment to social justice isn't incompatible with business'.

Byline: Martin Shipton Chief Reporter martin.shipton@walesonline.co.uk

SOCIAL justice is entirely compatible with a flourishing business sector, according to the most left-wing candidate for the Labour leadership.

Speaking before yesterday's hustings event for party members in Cardiff City Hall, Jeremy Corbyn said: "I think Labour has not been clear enough about how we should develop the economy. We have high skills in Britain. Our best resources are people - engineering, computing, design and innovation. "Britain is very good at developing things at an experimental stage and very bad at bringing them into production: telephones, televisions, computers, linear motors, tilting trains, jet engines and so on. With very few exceptions, we have not developed them and they've gone somewhere else.

"I would want to see an incoming Labour government with public participation in developing industries, recognising that the needs of the world are efficiency and sustainable energy sources.

"So we go in for electric vehicles, we go in for electric trains, we go in for solar and lots of other forms of electricity generation - there's lots we can do. I want to see a Labour Party that is both uniting people in terms of the society we want, but also looking forward at the kind of jobs we want in the future.

"A commitment to social justice is not incompatible with a commitment to business. But we expect all businesses to pay their taxes. At the moment we have over PS50bn a year not collected because of tax evasion and tax avoidance, either through offshore accounts, tax havens or simple fraud of the HMRC. "The Government is cutting HMRC staff, so it's pretty obvious there's going to be less tracking down of tax evaders - and we're told the greatest thing the Government can do now is cut PS12bn off the welfare budget, knowing full well the people who will be hit by that will be the poorest people in the poorest communities in South Wales, in the Midlands, in London, wherever.

"We need a balance in our society. Britain became wealthy through manufacturing, through mining, through development.

"What we're doing is turning ourselves into a financial services economy when other European countries are maximising their skill base and maximising their innovative industrial base, particularly Germany. We can do the same and we should do the same. But it does mean public participation.

"In Germany, regional parliaments invest in local industry. There's no reason why we couldn't have a devolution package in Britain that gives that power not just to the Welsh Government, but to English regional government as well."

Asked why Labour had lost the general election, the Islington North MP said: "I think we lost because we didn't give a clear enough message of what a Labour government would do.

"Ed Miliband did well on zero hours contracts, the right to work, the general issue of inequality, and put that over well. But the problem was, when people got home and looked at the television programmes and thought about it, we were still going to be cutting local government expenditure, we were still going to be freezing public sector pay and there was still going to be an awful lot of cuts down the line.

"We didn't actually stand up against the whole principle of the austerity agenda of the Tories and the European and world bankers."

Responding to the suggestion that many people were not convinced by the anti-austerity case, and that many were convinced that the last Labour government had spent too much, Mr Corbyn said: "Labour's spending was broadly the same or even less than Thatcher and Major spent as a proportion of gross national income. Where we did spend too much was on outsourcing PFI contracts, consultancies and the private sector agenda on public services.

"Maybe we're using poor language. I don't think the person on the street thinks in terms of austerity, they think in terms of cuts.

"Maybe we should be clearer about that. I was at the big anti-austerity march in London three weeks ago - 250,000 people were there. It was spectacular for two reasons.

"Firstly, in all the demonstrations I've ever been on in my life - and there's been a lot of them - it's the first time ever the organisers and police have agreed on the numbers. It's never happened before.

"Secondly, what I found there was an enormous variety of people: young, old, poor, middle class, from all parts of the UK and actually quite a wide range of political views, except for the general agreement that we were being conned into austerity.

"The reality of austerity is more homeless, more children living overcrowded lives, more libraries being closed, more people in adult social care going through a crisis and greater inequality in our society than we've known for a very long time. Britain is the most unequal society in Europe and getting worse.

"I think we need to have a different agenda, and my whole point in this leadership election campaign is to say to Labour we've got to face up to why we lost and put forward a different economic agenda."

Mr Corbyn said Labour should not compromise its commitment to the welfare state: "In the 1940s, national assistance and national insurance and all those pieces of legislation said that nobody should live in destitution," he said.

"It wasn't a socialist who said that - it was Beveridge, a Liberal. We accepted that principle. Somewhere or other along the line we've forgotten about that principle and started saying we're going to start punishing people on benefits, and punishing people who allegedly misclaim.

"Now obviously I'm not in favour of people being dishonest, I'm not in favour of people misclaiming. But I am in favour of a welfare state that ends destitution in Britain.

"I go to every city in the UK frequently. I'm finding more and more homeless people, more and more destitute people.

"All of us are an accident away from severe disability.

"All of us are an accident away from completely having to rely on the welfare state. I think we should be proud of that and say so. If that's too left wing, so be it, I'll leave others to decide.

"But I think if you present the argument in terms of the kind of society we want to live in, then that's good."

CAPTION(S):

Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn, the Islington North MP, said Labour should not compromise its commitment to the welfare state Joe Giddens
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 6, 2015
Words:1084
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