Jeremy Corbyn: Labour is back as the voice of the working class
Jeremy Corbyn has insisted Labour is “back as the political voice of the working class”.
His comments came just 24 hours after Unite boss Len McCluskey warned him not to neglect the party’s traditional voters.
Addressing the union’s annual conference in Brighton, Mr Corbyn said he would put the issues faced by working class voters “centre stage” as he detailed a 20-point plan to boost rights and conditions for employees.
A YouGov poll last month found that 48% of so-called C2DE voters now backed the Conservatives, up from 35% in January.
At the same time, support for Labour among that social group had plummeted from 46% to 37%.
But Mr Corbyn said: “We need to do far more to give a real voice to working class communities who feel they aren’t heard in politics - often older people living outside the big cities in areas hit by decades of failed economic policies.
“For 30 years, the media and the establishment tried to tell us that class doesn't matter any more and that we should ditch any idea of representing and advancing the interests of the working class.
“We've seen where that's got us - trade union membership and living standards falling while inequality and insecurity grow.
“That’s why it’s so important that Labour is back as the political voice of the working class in all its diversity across Britain and we will be campaigning on the issues that matter to communities that have been held back and ignored across the country in the weeks and months to come.”
Mr Corbyn’s remarks indicate concern among the Labour hierarchy that his left-wing message, particularly on foreign policy issues, may struggle to win support among working class voters.
While Labour exceeded expectations in last year’s election, the party still under-performed in its traditional heartlands in the north of England.
Mr Corbyn’s remarks came as Unite said it was now open to the idea of a referendum on the deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels, something he has consistently refused to support.