Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victory speech
Let’s start by thanking everyone who took part in this election, this huge democratic exercise of more than half a million people all across this country.
It shows our party and our movement [is] passionate, democratic, diverse, united, and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all.
There are many people I want to thank before I say a few words if I may. First of all Iain McNicol, the general secretary of the party, and all the party staff for their incredible hard work during this campaign, the general election campaign and all the other campaigns that we do and will continue to do. Iain thank you very much and please make sure all our staff are aware of the appreciation we all have for all of them, thank you.
I want also to pay a huge thanks and tribute to Harriet Harman who has been our acting leader and our deputy leader and before that our acting leader. I have known Harriet for a very long time and what I would say of her is her absolute commitment and passion for decency, equality and the rights of women in our society is something that we will honour her for, thank her for and we have legislation that is being brought about by her determination. Harriet, thank you so much for all you have done and the way in which you have led the party since the tragedy of the election result in May.
I want also to congratulate Tom Watson on his election as deputy leader of the party. Tom is passionate about communication, passionate about holding the state and unaccountable people who don’t wish to be accountable to account. Tom is your man to do that.
I had a very long conversation with Ed a couple of days ago and I thanked him for his work as leader of the party. I thanked him for his work as environment secretary and somebody who is passionate about defending the world’s environment against the way it is being destroyed at the present time. I also thanked him for the way in which he stood up to the abuse he received by much of our media and the dignity he showed when his late father the great Ralph Miliband was so brutally abused by some of our media. So Ed thank you for all of that.
I want to thank the fellow leadership candidates. We have been, we are discussing the number whether it’s 25, 35 or 39 hustings we have been to together since this election started. We will discuss that later and exchange diaries. But it has been a fascinating experience for all of us and I want to thank them for the way the debates were conducted. The way we were able to put forward political debate and political differences and still come out at the ned of it with a group hug. We are going to reform ourselves as an Abba tribute band and continue this work in the future.
Andy Burnham is our health secretary and Andy’s passion and determination for a National Health Service as a human right free at the point of use is something that comes over every time Andy speaks. And his passion for comprehensive education to ensure all children have a reasonable, fair and decent start in life.
I want to say thank you to Yvette Cooper for all the work she has done in government and in the party. But in particular, over the past few weeks, helping to shape and turn round public opinion to show sympathy and humanity towards refugees and the way they are treated.
One of my first acts as the leader of the party will be to go to the demonstrations this afternoon to show support for the way refugees must be treated and should be treated in this country.
I want to thank Liz Kendall for her friendship during this campaign, for the way we have managed to have some moderately different opinions on a number of issues but we have managed to maintain a very good friendship. Liz is somebody that I admire because she absolutely stands up for what she believes in, whether it’s easy, simple or popular or uneasy, not simple and unpopular. So Liz thank you very much,.
Those late night train rides will never be the same again. So thank you to my fellow candidates and to the thousands of party members that have attended the husting events all over the country.
It is quite amazing that every one of them was completely full, standing room only and many other members and supporters were unable to get along to them. That is a tribute to our party, all the candidates, both the deputy leader and the leader, and the way in which our members want passionately to engage in debate and be able to influence party policy and make our party more inclusive, more democratic and the membership better listened to in the future.
I want to thank my own campaign team. They have been absolutely amazing. We came together after we had got on to the ballot paper, I appreciate with difficulty, and I want to say thank you to the 36 members of Parliament, well 35 plus me because I nominated myself, for nominating me for this position. I know some of them had possibly some reluctance to do so, it is reported, but they did so in the spirit of inclusion and the spirit of democracy. I thank them for that and I look forward to working with all of them after this election to campaign because we have got great work to do in the party.
Our campaign began with very little and we gained support, we gained volunteers and I thank the unions that nominated me – Unite, Unison, the TSA, Aslef, the Communication Workers’ Union, the Prisoner Officers’ Association, the Bakers’ Union, the Socialist Educational Association, the Socialist Health Association and the support received from the RMT Union and the FPU. And all the other unions that took part in this campaign.
We are a party organically linked together between the unions and party membership and all the affiliated organisations. That is where we get our strength from. As a former union organiser in UP now part of Unison I fully understand the importance of unions at the workplace defending people’s rights, standing up for their members and that’s why I don’t appreciate what this Government is trying to do to shackle unions in the Trade Union Bill they are bringing forward on Monday.
Our campaign attracted the support of 16,000 volunteers all over the country. Organisers in each part of the country that organised all the events and meetings that we have held and in total we have done 99 of those events today is the century. We are here at the end of this very long campaign. It has been quite incredible the numbers of people that have come forward to join our party.
But before I go onto that I want to just say a big thank you – they all know who they are – to my many personal friends, everyone in Islington North Labour party that elected me to parliament eight times up until May of this year – for their fantastic comradeship, friendship and support. It has been quite amazing and I absolutely value their advice. Sometimes it is advice you don’t always want to receive, but that is the best advice you get. I stay thank you to all of them in Islington North.
I also say a huge thank you to all of my widest family, all of them. Because they have been through the most appalling levels of abuse from some of our media over the past three months. It has been intrusive, it has been abusive, it has been simply wrong. I say to journalists attack public political figures, make criticisms of them, that is okay, that is what politics is about. But please don’t attack people who didn’t ask to be put in the limelight, merely want to get on with their lives, leave them alone, leave them alone in all circumstances.
During this amazing three months our party has changed. We have grown enormously; we have grown enormously because of the hopes of so many ordinary people for a different Britain, a better Britain, a more equal Britain, a more decent Britain. They are fed up with the inequality, the injustice, the unnecessary poverty; all those issues have brought people in in a spirt of hope and optimism.
So I say to the new members of the party or those who have joined in as registered supporters or affiliated supporters, welcome, welcome to our party, welcome to our movement.
I say to those returning to the party who were in it before and felt disillusioned and went away, welcome back. Welcome back to your party, welcome home.
The media and maybe many of us simply didn’t understand the views of many yuoung people within our society. They had been written off as a non-political generation. They were simply not interested, hence the relatively low turnout and low level of registration in the last general election. They weren’t. They are a very political generation that were turned off by the way in which politics was being conducted and not attracted or interested in it. We have to, and must, change that.
So, the fight back now of our party gathers speed and gathers pace. I am delighted that Kezia Dugdale is here today, our leader in Scotland. We are all going to be campaigning in Scotland, for Labour in Scotland, for those great traditions, those great Labour traditions in Scotland. I thank Carwyn Jones for his leadership and the way in which we are going to fight in Wales. I congratulate them on ending the internal market in the health service in Wales, something we want to do in the rest of Britain.
I say congratulations to Marvin Reece selected yesterday as our mayoral candidate for Bristol. We are all going to be down there, Marvin, helping and supporting you to win Bristol.
To my friend Sadiq Khan who has been selected as our Mayoral candidate for London. Sadiq, we are going to be campaigning together and we are going to be campaigning together particularly on the crucial issue of housing in London. I am fed up with the social cleansing of London by this Tory Government and its policies. We need a Labour Mayor, we need a Labour Mayor in London who can ensure we do house everyone in London, we do end the sky high rents, we do end the insecurity of those living in the private rented sector. We need a Labour Mayor to bring that about in this wonderful, great city of London. Sadiq is the man to do it.
This week the Tories will show what they are really made of. On Monday, they have the Trade Union Bill designed to undermine even the ILO conventions and shackle democratic unions and destroy another element of democracy within our society. We have to oppose that. They are also pushing the Welfare Reform Bill which will bring such misery and poverty to so man y of the poorest in our society.
I want us as a movement to be proud, strong and able to stand up and say ‘we want to live in a society where we don’t pass by on the other side of those people rejected by an unfair welfare system’. Instead we reach out to end the scourge of homelessness and desperation that so many people face in our society. We are strong enough and big enough and able to do that – that is what we are about.
There are many issues we face and many people face desperation in other parts of the world. I think it is quite incredible the way the mood in Europe has changed over the past few weeks on understanding that people fleeing from wars, they are the victims of wars. They are the generational victims of wars, they are the intergenerational victims of war, end up in desperation, end up in terrible places, end up trying to gain a place of safety. End up trying to be exercise their refugee rights. They are human beings just like you, just like me. Let’s deal with the refugee crisis with humanity, with support, with help, with compassion, to try to help people who are trying to get to a place of safety. Trying to help people who are stuck in refugee camps but recognise going to war creates a legacy of bitterness and problems. Let us be a force for change in the world, a force for humanity in the world, a force for peace in the world and a force that recognises we cannot go on like this with grotesque levels of global insecurity, grotesque threats to our environment all around the world without the rich and powerful governments stepping up to the plate to make sure our world becomes safer and better. And those people don’t end up in poverty, in refugee camps, wasting their lives away when they could be contributing so much to the good of all of us on this planet. We are one world, let that message go out today from this conference centre here in London.
The Tories have used the economic crisis of 2008 to impose a terrible burden on the poorest people in this country. Those that have seen their wages frozen or cut, those that can’t afford to even sustain themselves properly, those that rely on food banks to get by, it is not right it is not necessary and it has got to change. We need an economic strategy that improves people’s lives, that expands our economy that reaches out to care for everybody. You can’t to do that if at the same time you do nothing about grotesque levels of inequality within our society. We need to develop an economic policy that deals with those issues.
So, our party is about justice, is about democracy, it is about the great traditions we walk on. Those that founded our party and our movement, those that stood up for human rights and justice, the right for women to vote, the right for others to vote. We stand here today because of their work.
But we go forward now as a movement and a party bigger than we have ever been for a very, very long time. Stronger than we have ever been for a very long time. More determined than we have been for a very long time, to show to everyone that the objectives to our party are intact, our passion is intact, our demand for humanity is intact and we as a party are going to reach out to everyone in this country to take us on that journey together so no one is left on the side. Everyone has a decent chance in life and a decent place within our society. That is what Labour was bright about to achieve, that is what we are going to achieve.
This election campaign is, as we see here, about shaping our future. Our party is going to, I hope, become more inclusive, more involved, more democratic and we are going to shape the future of everyone in this country in a way that I think will be remembered as something that is good for everyone, that brings about the justice that we all crave. That is what brought us into this wonderful party and this wonderful movement ourselves..
I say thank you to everyone for all their support, friendship and comradeship during this election process. I say thank you in advance to us all working together to achieve great victories, not just electuary for Labour, but emotionally for the whole of our society to show we don’t have to be unequal. It doesn’t have to be unfair, poverty isn’t inevitable, things can, and they will, change.
Thank you very much.