Jeremy Corbyn vows to 'extend democracy' across UK and inside Labour

Ian Silvera

Jeremy Corbyn promised to "extend democracy" across the UK as he unveiled four new pledges, as part of his campaign to retain the leadership of the Labour party. The left-winger claimed Britain faces a "democratic deficit" in politics, business and the economy.

Corbyn reaffirmed his commitment to axe the unelected House of Lords and, among other things, to introduce new collective and individual rights at work.

The announcement comes after Corbyn's controversial decision to nominate human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti for a peerage. The move attracted criticism because Chakrabarti led an "independent" inquiry into accusations of anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

Corbyn, who faced mass resignations from his shadow cabinet and a vote of 'no confidence' from the Labour parliamentary party following the UK's EU referendum on 23 June, also pledged to reform Labour's internal democracy by creating a so called 'sovereign conference' and form a charter of rights for party members.

"I am determined to democratise our country from the ground up, and give people a real say in their communities and workplaces," Corbyn said. "We need to break open the closed circle of Westminster and Whitehall, and of the boardrooms too.

"Decisions in Britain are overwhelmingly taken from the top down. And that's crucial to why our country is run in the interests of a privileged few.

"That has to change – so that the country works in the interests of the millions, and not just the millionaires.

"I believe in the wisdom of ordinary citizens. That's why we are launching proposals to extend democracy in every part of public life: in national politics, communities, the economy and the workplace – and in our own party.

"Labour under my leadership will listen to ideas from the bottom up – and take radical action to transform and rebuild our country so that no one and no community is left behind. We need nothing less than a democratic revolution in our politics, communities and workplaces."

Corbyn Smith

The new policy announcements come hours before Labour members begin to receive their ballots in the Labour leadership election tomorrow (22 August).

Owen Smith, Corbyn's sole challenger, was dealt a boost when he upheld a decision from Labour's governing body, its National Executive Committee, to block some 180,000 new members who joined the party after 12 January from having a say in the contest unless they pay a £25 fee.

The former shadow work and pensions secretary also received a further lift after Labour's Mayor of London Sadiq Khan endorsed him for the leadership. Khan, who has the largest individual mandate in British politics, warned his party would not win a general election under Corbyn's control.

"Jeremy has already proved that he is unable to organise an effective team, and has failed to win the trust and respect of the British people," Khan wrote in The Observer.

"We need to be honest and recognise that means it will be more likely that the NHS will come under even greater attack from the Tories. More likely that we will see even deeper Tory cuts.

"More likely that our industrial heartlands will continue to decline, and that zero-hours contracts and job insecurity will become the norm. Because the Tories will stay in power, and Labour will stay in opposition."

But Corbyn, who secured almost 60% of the vote in Labour's 2015 leadership election, is still favourite to be declared winner during Labour's Leadership Conference in Liverpool on 24 September.

The key dates of the Labour leadership election

  • 18 July: Signing up as a registered supporter to vote in the election begins.
  • 19 - 20 July: Number of MP nominations for each candidate to be published.
  • 20 July: Deadline for people to sign up as a registered supporter closes.
  • 22 August: Ballot papers will begin to be sent out around the UK, but to Labour Party members only.
  • 21 September: Deadline for ballot papers to be returned is midday.
  • 24 September: The election result will be announced at a Leadership Conference in Liverpool.

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