Jeremy Corbyn is to exploit his status as the underdog in the general election with a vow that he won’t “play by the rules” of usual politics and will take on the media as well as the Tories to change Britain’s “rigged system”.
In his first official speech of the campaign, the Labour leader will deny that the race to is “a foregone conclusion”, despite a raft of opinion polls putting his party around 20 points behind the Conservatives.
Speaking in central London, Corbyn will promise his government would take on the “few powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations” who the Tories have allowed to effectively run Britain in their own interests.
On the first full day of campaigning since the House of Commons gave the go-ahead for a June 8 election, he deliberately contrasted his own approach with Theresa May’s more traditional message of offering “strong and stable leadership” – as well as the pitch of previous Labour leaders.
Corbyn made an impromptu street visit in the London marginal of Croydon Central on Wednesday, taking selfies with supporters as he talked of cuts to the NHS, social care, wages and housing.
By contrast, May took a helicopter to a golf course in another marginal of Bolton, using an autocue to ram home her message of delivering a smooth Brexit. Neither leader took questions, however.
In his speech on Thursday, Corbyn will seek to underline his ‘people’s campaign’, which was boosted by £200,000 raised by his party’s new members in just 24 hours.
He will say that the rich who run Britain should feel threatened by Labour as its policies will restore rights and income to “the true wealth creators” – the majority of the public – rather than “the wealth extractors”.
“Much of the media and establishment are saying this election is a foregone conclusion. They think there are rules in politics, which if you don’t follow by doffing your cap to powerful people, accepting that things can’t really change, then you can’t win.
“But of course those people don’t want us to win. Because when we win, it’s the people, not the powerful, who win. The nurse, the teacher, the small trader, the carer, the builder, the office worker win. We all win.
“They say I don’t play by the rules – their rules. We can’t win, they say, because we don’t play their game. They’re quite right I don’t. And a Labour Government elected on 8 June won’t play by their rules.”
The remark is a big contrast to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband as well as David Cameron, all of whom have said that they want to stand up for people who “play by the rules”.
Corbyn wants to reset public assumptions about Labour’s chances, scotching talk of it heading for an historic defeat. However, two polls gave the Tories huge 21-point leads just before the Prime Minister’s surprise announcement of a June poll.
Pollster Matthew Goodwin forecast that Labour could lose up to 80 seats and leave them with just 154 seats, their worst result since 1931.
In his speech, Corbyn served notice that he would play to what he sees as his own strengths as an outsider taking on the powerful.
“If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green [the former boss of BHS], I’d be worried about a Labour Government.
“If I were Mike Ashley [the boss of Sports Direct] or the CEO of a tax avoiding multinational corporation, I’d want to see a Tory victory.
“Labour is the party that will put the interests of the majority first.
That’s why we will prove the establishment experts wrong and change the direction of this election – because the British people know that they are the true wealth creators, held back by a system rigged for the wealth extractors.”
Corbyn will add that the Tories – and by implication even New Labour – had “created a cosy cartel which rigs the system in favour of a few powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations”
“It’s a rigged system set up by the wealth extractors for the wealth extractors. But things can, and they will, change.”
In remarks that appear to refer to Labour’s own reign during the 2008 financial crisis as well as the Tory record since, Corbyn will say: “How dare they crash the economy with their recklessness and greed, and then punish those who had nothing to do with it.
“We will overturn this rigged system. The Conservatives will never do that. Seven years of broken promises show us that: on wages, the deficit, the NHS, our schools, our environment.
“The Conservatives will use all the divide and rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to protect the wealth extractors’ rigged system.”