Labour is now 'the political mainstream', says Jeremy Corbyn
The Labour leader used his conference address to claim the centre ground of British politics
Corbyn - PA
Jeremy Corbyn has claimed Labour now occupies the centre ground of British politics as he called on his party to unite and prove it is ready for power.
The Labour leader told his party’s conference in Brighton Britain had moved decisively to the left since the financial crash, leaving them “on the threshold of power”.
In a lengthy address Corbyn said the snap election – which saw Labour gain 30 seats to deny the Conservatives a majority – proved that his socialist agenda was popular.
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"It is often said that elections can only be won from the centre ground, and in a way that's not wrong - so long as it's clear that the political centre of gravity isn't fixed or unmovable, nor is it where the establishment pundits like to think it is," he told delegates.
"It shifts as people's expectations and experiences change and political space is opened up.
"Today's centre ground is certainly not where it was twenty or thirty years ago. A new consensus is emerging from the great economic crash and the years of austerity, when people started to find political voice for their hopes for something different and better."
"2017 may be the year when politics finally caught up with the crash of 2008 - because we offered people a clear choice.
"We need to build a still broader consensus around the priorities we set in the election, making the case for both compassion and collective aspiration. This is the real centre of gravity of British politics. We are now the political mainstream."
His 75-minute speech also included a promise to introduce rent controls and attacked the "forced gentrification" of housing estates.
There was also a section on foreign policy, which he said should be based on democracy and human rights. Britain's close relationship with the US should be used to advise Donald Trump to drop "deeply disturbing" rhetoric.
"If the special relationship means anything, it must mean that we can say to Washington: that way is the wrong way," he said.
Corbyn's allies were quick to praise the speech. Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, said: “I actually think we've been on a rightward slide in this country for many years and when I speak to our friends on the continent of Europe, they say 'we’ve looked at your manifesto, it seems pretty mainstream to us’.
"There are certain governments that shift it - the '45 government shifted, the Thatcher government shifted the other way and I think when we finally get the opportunity we will be shifting it to the centre as we see it and I think as the vast majority of people in Britain see it."
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said it was a “visionary” speech.
“The range of issues he identified were the key issues facing our country,” he said. “The Government is in absolute disarray, falling apart...I think if the general election campaign had gone on another couple of weeks, we'd be in government now."
Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey added: "Corbyn's Labour can and will transform our country to make it work for the many not the few. Our party leaves this conference confident, united, invigorated and determined to build a better Britain."
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