Corbyn’s Alternative to ‘Austerity-Lite’ Politics

Progressive Taxation, Crackdowns on Corporate Criminals, and Strong Investment

Corbyn has campaigned for a “more progressive” tax system, calling for:

  • Stronger anti-avoidance rules”;
  • “Country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations”;
  • A reform of “small business taxation to tackle avoidance and evasion”;
  • Proper regulation of companies in the UK to “ensure that they pay what they owe””;
  • A reversal of cuts to HMRC staff;[1]
  • And a restoration of “the 50p top rate of income tax”, along with a reversal of “George Osborne’s cuts to corporation tax”.[2]

At the same time, he has stressed the need to “make large reductions in the £93 billion of corporate tax relief and subsidies”. With all of this extra money, Corbyn would hope to set up a “National Investment Bank that would promote infrastructure upgrades and provide support for innovation”, closing the national deficit by “building a strong, growing economy that works for all” and “not by increasing poverty”. In order to do this, he advocates a “publicly-led expansion and reconstruction of the economy, with a big rise in investment levels”. At the same time, he promised that he would “always protect public services and support for the most vulnerable”, while seeking to make “national housing, transport, digital and energy networks” some of the “best in the world”.[3]

He has also insisted that New Labour has been “too close to big business” and “too close to economic orthodoxy”. This failure to offer “a real alternative”, he has asserted, “was the fundamental problem in the last general election”.[4] In fact, twenty-seven Labour candidates who failed to win seats in May’s election agreed with this assumption, highlighting that Labour lost the election because it “failed to challenge the fundamental economic consensus on austerity”.[5]


Recognising that the housing situation in the UK is a serious problem, Corbyn has promised:

  • “To get 240,000 homes built every year”;
  • “To get councils to build affordable housing” by “providing low interest loans through a National Investment Bank, extending the amount councils can borrow and reviving regional home building targets”.
  • That the initiation of “desirable energy efficient building projects” would “provide our young people with a good start in life”, allow them to “stop paying exorbitant rents”, and give them “the opportunity of a home they can at least call their own”.
  • Housing provision would no longer be “left purely to market forces”, insisting that the current system had “reached crisis point” and had caused “the social cleansing of our cities”.[6]


In order to ensure the “socialisation of our energy supply”, Corbyn has promised:

  • The government will “start buying shares” in British Gas, SSE, Eon, RWE, Npower, Scottish Power and EDF with the eventual aim of owning “a controlling stake in each of them”
  • The nationalisation of the National Grid;
  • The public ownership of these energy companies will consist of “a mixture of local, community and national government levels”.
  • The re-nationalisation process will be undertaken “slowly”.[7]


Corbyn has stressed that his government would focus on:

  • “Tackling the cost of living and climate crisis together”;
  • Ending the “era of fossil fuels”;
  • “Creating 1 million new green climate jobs” by forging “a modern, green, resource-efficient economy”;
  • Ensuring everyone has access to a decent home that is low-carbon and affordable to keep warm”;
  • Protecting our ecosystems, wildlife habitats and a compassionate approach to animal welfare”, so that “people and nature thrive together”;
  • Policy ideas that “make sense on the health front, the economic and jobs front and the planet front”.[8]

Foreign Policy

Regarding Europe, Corbyn has emphasised that, “if David Cameron ‘trades away’ workers’ rights, environmental protection and fails to crack down on Brussels-backed tax havens”, he would not rule out support for the campaign to leave the EU. In the meantime, however, he insists that Britain should demand “universal workers’ rights, universal environmental protection”, and an end to the “race to the bottom on corporate taxation”. Such policies help to explain why Corbyn has gained popularity among working-class UKIP voters. At the same time, though, “none of the other candidates said they were prepared to join the ‘No’ campaign”, and such a campaign could risk a split in the pro-EU Labour Party (as happened in the 1980s).[9]

As far as NATO is concerned, Corbyn has underlined the need for “serious discussions about de-escalating the military crisis in central Europe”, stressing that “Nato expansion and Russian expansion – one leads to the other, and one reflects the other”.[10]


We’ve also heard Corbyn talk about the importance of ‘co-operation’, arguing that:

  • Co-operative principles” should be brought “into the heart of government”, as involving people “as mutual participants in building their own future” helps them to “release their energy and enterprise”;
  • “Passengers, rail workers and government” should run the railways “co-operatively” in order to “ensure they are run in our interests and not for private profit”;
  • “The old Labour model of top-down operation by central diktat” is outdated;
  • Schools should “co-operate, share best practice, and pool their resources” by setting up “an accountable co-ordinating and co-operative structure that involves parents, teachers, and councillors in reformed local education authorities”;
  • A Corbyn-led Labour Party would focus on “improving people’s control over their own lives”, and would be “driven by co-operative principles: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity”.[11]


Regarding education, Corbyn has claimed that:

  • A “National Education System” (NES) should be established;
  • Education is “a collective good that benefits our society and economy” by creating a “more skilled workforce”;
  • Tuition fees should be scrapped and grants restored;
  • “Investment in learning from cradle to grave” should be ensured;
  • The NES would be funded through a 2% increase in corporation tax (“while still leaving UK corporation tax the lowest in the G7”), as “the best employers understand the business case for investing in staff”.[12]

Youth Policy

Corbyn has pledged to:

  • Restore the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA);
  • Allow housing benefits for under 21s;
  • Introduce “properly paid apprenticeship schemes”;
  • Reduce the voting age to 16;
  • Ban zero-hour contracts.

In fact, the “Better Future For Young People” document was “compiled in discussion with more than 1,000 Young Labour supporters from across Britain”, as Corbyn has insisted that the Labour Party can no longer allow young people to be “so cynically ignored and discriminated against by those in power”.[13]

Workers’ Rights

Corbyn has said he hopes to “set up a Ministry of Labour to take the side of workers and create a “more secure, better trained workforce””. At the same time, “workers’ rights legislation” would be passed in order to “repeal much of what the Conservatives are doing – particularly the latest piece of anti-trade union legislation they’re introducing”.[14]

Party Structure

Unlike the right-wing of the Labour Party, Corbyn vowed to:

  • “Invite “great talents” from all wings of the party… into his shadow cabinet”;
  • Forge “a united party focused on winning the general election and campaigning across the country day in, day out”;
  • Make policymaking more democratic” by “ending what he calls the “top down” approaches developed under Tony Blair and New Labour”;
  • Be ““big enough” to bind all Labour voices and talents into decision and policy”.[15]
  • “End the culture of policymaking in the private surrounds of luxury hotels” and encourage “mass participation in genuine political debate”.[16]
  • Create “a more inclusive, clearer set of objectives” (though “not a reinstatement of the old Clause” IV) which would “include public ownership of some necessary things”.[17] He says “we shouldn’t shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways”.
  • Undertake a “greater democratisation of our party”, focussing on “bottom-up policy making rather than top-down decision-making“.[18]

The Political Establishment

Corbyn is not a polished PR machine like the other leadership candidates. Instead, he has insisted:

  • He is “just an ordinary person trying to do an ordinary job”;
  • “This is a positive process… We are looking to do things rather than stop others doing things”;
  • “We are not doing celebrity, personality, abusive politics – we are doing ideas. This is about hope”;
  • A thirst for something more communal, more participative” has been “bubbling for a long time”;[19]
  • “We’re the one putting forward ideas, so I don’t do personal, I don’t do reaction, I don’t do abuse. Life is too short and it devalues the political process”;
  • He will “work with other parties to get things through”.[20]


  • Corbyn rejects austerity rhetoric and instead focuses on the need to grow the economy in order to reduce the deficit. The other candidates all accept the right-wing argument in favour of cuts.
  • While all candidates apart from Kendall favour an increase in taxation for the rich, Corbyn goes further by stressing the need to collect lost revenues and reform the tax system.
  • Corbyn is the only candidate to favour the scrapping of tuition fees and restoration of maintenance grants.
  • All candidates speak of building more homes, but Corbyn emphasises the need to curtail the “right to buy” social housing and to “ease curbs on borrowing to help councils build”.
  • Corbyn has stood out as the only candidate to stress that immigration is not a drain on the economy”.
  • Corbyn has been the only candidate to oppose the renewal of Trident, and even calls for the UK to withdraw from NATO”.
  • In a stance that could win back Eurosceptics to Labour, Corbyn has not ruled out leaving the EU, while the other candidates seem to blindly support a pro-EU position.
  • Corbyn is the candidate most committed to public ownership, although Burnham eventually jumped on the bandwagon of supporting the nationalisation of the railways.
  • Corbyn has seemed like the candidate who would do the most for women’s rights, calling for “50% of Labour MPs to be female” and a “50:50 shadow cabinet”.
  • While Burnham has flip-flopped over the Tories’ welfare reforms, Corbyn has consistently taken a strong stance in favour of welfare and against the demonisation of the poor.[21]























About Ed Sykes

Independent journalist. Co-founder of Phoenix Media Co-operative. Author of Rojava: An Alternative. Ex-Canary editor and writer (2015-2020). Aka 'Oso Sabio' - see @ososabiouk on Twitter.
This entry was posted in Bourgeois Democracy, Corbyn4Leader, Democracy, Jeremy Corbyn, JezWeCan, Labour Leadership Elections, Labour Party, Progressive, UK, UK Elections 2015, UK Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Corbyn’s Alternative to ‘Austerity-Lite’ Politics

  1. Ross Goldstone says:

    Hello there, if you’re interested in U.K. politics then take a look at my blog. My most recent article can be found here:

  2. Pingback: Corbyn’s Summer Shake-Up (Part One) | Resistance Is Fertile

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s