UK Labour

'Never have so many trees died in vain': Corbyn hits back at Daily Mail attacks

Corbyn told delegates that Labour was “on the threshold of power” and that Tories were “hanging on by their fingertips”.

Labour Party annual conference 2017 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn makes his keynote address to the Labour Party's annual conference. Stefan Rousseau via PA Images Stefan Rousseau via PA Images

UK LABOUR LEADER Jeremy Corbyn has been a divisive figure in the UK. On the one hand, you have crowds of people chanting his name at festivals and clubs, and on the other you have deep misgivings from within his party that he’s the person to lead them to electoral victory.

Of those two sides of the scale, most of the British media have been siding with Corbyn’s critics – and that’s putting it mildly.

One edition of the Sun, published on the day of the UK’s snap election, had the headline “Don’t chuck Britain in the Cor-bin” accompanied by a picture of the Labour leader in a metal bin (subtle).

Riding on the high of a significant increase in the UK’s June election, and subsequent popularity ratings, Corbyn has taken the opportunity to hit back at his critics in the media.

“The day before the election, one paper devoted 14 pages to attacking the Labour Party,” Corbyn told the Labour conference in Brighton today.

And our vote went up nearly 10%. Never have so many trees died in vain. The British people saw right through it.

And he didn’t stop there.

So this is a message to the Daily Mail’s editor [Paul Dacre]: Next time, please could you make it 28 pages?

Buzzfeed UK’s political editor Jim Waterson said that Corbyn’s attack was a significant change in the relationship between politicians and the media.

It’s definitely *a sign media power has shifted* that a political leader feels able to use their conference speech to tell the editor of the UK’s second most popular newspaper to piss off without worrying about the consequences.

Labour Party annual conference 2017 Corbyn waves to the crowd after his speech. Gareth Fuller via PA Images Gareth Fuller via PA Images

As Britain’s main opposition party, Labour has had some trouble with building itself up in the polls, despite a series of government scandals and flops (not dissimilar to our own Labour party).

But Corbyn assured crowds today that the party was “now the political mainstream” and “ready for government” – boldly stating that Labour was “on the threshold of power”.

“We’ve become a government in waiting,” he said, adding that Labour were “ready to build a new and progressive relationship with Europe”.

Corbyn has met with significant resistence from Labour MPs over his attempts to move the party to the left since being elected leader in September 2015.

But he defied expectations by winning 30 more seats in June on a manifesto promising nationalisations and a huge increase in public spending.

Now, Corbyn is more confident, telling delegates today:

A new consensus is emerging from the great economic crash and the years of austerity, when people started to find a political voice for their hopes, for something different and better.
This is the real centre of gravity of British politics. We are now the political mainstream.

Corbyn said May’s Conservatives, who are riven by infighting over the government’s strategy on Brexit, were “hanging on by their fingertips”.

Brexit Prime Minister Theresa May greets President of the European Council Donald Tusk. Jonathan Brady via PA Images Jonathan Brady via PA Images

The elephant in the room

But Labour is also divided over Brexit, particularly over whether Britain should continue to have access to the European single market after it leaves the EU and continue to accept free movement of people.

Corbyn offered no details on Labour’s position on Brexit in the speech and instead attacked Conservatives for “bungling” Brexit negotiations.

A YouGov poll for The Times published today showed Labour on 43% compared to the Conservatives on 39%.

But the poll of 1,716 people conducted last week showed trust in May as a leader was at 37% compared to 29% for Corbyn.

- With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

© – AFP, 2017

Read: Theresa May proposes two year transition period after Britain leaves the EU

Read: Theresa May seeks to root out leakers as Tony Blair says Jeremy Corbyn could be PM

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