Jeremy Corbyn

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We don't have to be unequal, it doesn't have to be unfair, poverty isn't inevitable, things can and they will change.

Jeremy Bernard Corbyn (born 26 May 1949) is a British politician who is the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Islington North since 1983. His political career began when he was elected to Haringey Council in 1974 and later was secretary of the Islington Constituency Labour Party (CLP). He continued in both roles until he entered the House of Commons as an MP.

Quotes[edit]

1980s[edit]

  • 1982 is the year when we want to see a lot of left-wing Labour-controlled authorities. The people that have been selected now as candidates tend to be politically experienced in community politics or the Labour movement. In no way are they people coming off the streets and becoming Labour councillors, which is what has happened in the past.
    • The Times (12 March 1982), p. 3.
  • The Americans have sought consistently to undermine and destabilise the Governments of Grenada since 1979. They have sought consistently to undermine and destabilise the Government of Jamaica. They did so until Mr. Seaga was elected Prime Minister. They have consistently sought to undermine and destabilise any Government in the region who have sought to develop the interests of the people rather than the interests of the multinational companies that are busy exploiting those people. At the centre of the debate and of the activities of the United States lies its belief that its role is to defend the people who pay the Government — the multinational companies. The British Government are doing exactly the same. In every conference chamber around the world, the British Government support American foreign policy. They do not have a foreign policy in the Caribbean or central America. All they know is to follow the United States—except that when the issue of Grenada came up they did not know what to do. So, for three days running, we have had a pathetic appearance by the Foreign Secretary, who has been wondering what to do next. He comes to the House, wringing his hands, wondering what on earth to say next. He knows that he has been made to look an absolute idiot because he was incapable of standing up to the Americans for once. The one thing that the Americans do not respect is the Uriah Heep diplomacy that the British Government operate towards them. The Pavlovian response of agreeing to everything that the United States demands and wants has got them nowhere and has made them look incredibly stupid and shortsighted.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (26 October 1983).
  • The Government's policies of controlling local authority spending, cutting National Health spending and promoting private medicine and care for the elderly are a return to the workhouse. The only difference is that it is a capitalist workhouse rather than a discreet workhouse stuck away in the hills outside the town...Care for the elderly is an important issue. It cannot be left to volunteers, charities or to people going out with collecting boxes to see that old people are looked after properly. The issue is central to our demands for a caring society. That means an end to the cuts and an end to the policy of attacking those authorities that try to care for the elderly. Instead, there should be support for and recognition of those demands. Elderly people deserve a little more than pats on the head from Conservative Members. They deserve more than the platitudinous nonsense talked about handing the meals on wheels service over to the WRVS or any other volunteer who cares to run it. Instead, there should be a recognition that those who have worked all their lives to create and provide the wealth that the rest of us enjoy deserve some dignity in retirement. They do not deserve poverty, or to be ignored in their retirement, having to live worrying whether to put on the gas fire, or boil the kettle for a cup of tea, or whether they can afford a television licence or a trip out. They should not have to wonder whether the home help who has looked after them so long will be able to continue. The issue is crucial. The motion says clearly that care for the elderly comes before the promotion of policies that merely increase the wealth of those who are already the wealthiest in our society.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (22 February 1984).
  • Earlier, the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) spoke. He probably represents the more honest and truer face of the Tory party when he spoke the usual racist pap about immigration causing problems and pretending that the unemployment figures in the west midlands were caused by immigration. He was in effect saying that the cultural changes that have taken place because of immigration are unacceptable. I find his remarks offensive and unacceptable, as do people in many parts of the country, who live happily in a multicultural, multiracial environment and who are not prepared to put up with that kind of bigotry.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 March 1984).
  • The overwhelming and overriding demand is for greater democracy, and some form of public accountability and control of the police force in London. It is nonsense that 25,000 people should be employed at public expense and yet the only recourse that a member of the public has who complains about the police is to go to the police who will then investigate the complaint themselves and come up with some kind of answer, or to take the complaint to their Member of Parliament who may have the opportunity of being called in a debate to speak about it. That is unsatisfactory, but the most important matter is to have democratic control of the police forces in this country.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (11 May 1984).
  • Will the Leader of the House consider making proposals to improve public access and facilities for lobbyists in this building? Is he aware that in the past few weeks elderly lobbyists have been forced to wait outside in the cold and rain before being allowed in? Is he further aware that there are no refreshment facilities for people who are not in the company of a Member of Parliament, and that the facilities for disabled people are poor?
    • Question in the House of Commons (29 November 1984).
  • With glee, Tory Members ritually attack the inner city authorities, the Greater London council, the metropolitan counties and all the others, and have voted through the Rates Act and with it rate capping. They will rue the day that they did that, because the Government are fundamentally attempting to destroy democracy for local government. They have been doing so since 1979. The political principle on which they have operated is sheer selective vindictiveness against the poorest people in the country. Every inner city area has been penalised by the Government because the Government's notion of overspending is that, if a council tries to provide services that go some way towards meeting some of the needs and aspirations of the poorest people, they kick the council in the teeth. If a council continues to do that, despite the Government's blandishments, it does not get kicked in the teeth, but has its head cut off and suffers an unprecedented media barrage inspired by the Government. If one looks at any inner city area, one finds that disgraceful pattern.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (16 January 1985).
  • In examining each local authority's performance, instead of penalising those which attempt to provide for the needs of the elderly and single people and the housing problems in inner city areas, the Government should look at the high unmet need in any inner city area...We would like more home helps working for the council, more day centres for the elderly and better facilities for the physically and mentally handicapped, because in all those areas there are waiting lists, not at the wish of the council but simply because the Government treat our local authority in the same way as every other...The Secretary of State has created a monster in his rate support grant proposals and his rate-capping proposals. He has created the most enormous opposition to himself and the Government. The Government may well squeeze this nasty little measure through the House tonight, but the opposition that they have created will live for a long time. The unity of that opposition will live for even longer. It will destroy him, his Government and this kind of attack on democracy, and it will lead to the election of a Labour Government committed to the restoration of genuine local democracy that has been so shamelessly destroyed by the Government.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (16 January 1985).
  • We are now in the midst of a severe winter during which many pensioners are not eating properly, are going to bed early and are suffering badly from hypothermia because they cannot afford to pay heating bills and therefore keep themselves warm and in health...The House should be aware that pensioners are treated badly. I should be happy if the Government presented proposals for a serious and real increase in the old-age pension. The real problem for pensioners is poverty. Although my Bill would help to alleviate that poverty, the real problem is the low level of the state pension...I propose the abolition of standing charges for gas and electricity for pensioners, and that there should not be an immediate increase in the unit cost of gas and electricity. The cost of abolition, which was estimated at £300 million in a recent parliamentary answer to me from the Department of Energy, should be borne by the Government only, so that the real cost of gas and electricity will be lower for pensioners than for other people.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (30 January 1985).
  • Is the Minister aware that many people regard the present system of juryless trials at the Crumlin road court as outrageous? It would be appropriate for him to pay a visit to see the way in which trials take place, with no jury, where the decision is made solely on the word of a supergrass witness who stands to benefit from giving evidence, and where only the judge makes the decision. How much money has been paid in the last four years to supergrass witnesses for their evidence in such circumstances?
    • Question in the House of Commons (13 June 1985).
  • Does the hon. Gentleman accept that some of us oppose the agreement for reasons other than those that he has given? We believe that the agreement strengthens rather than weakens the border between the six and the 26 counties, and those of us who wish to see a United Ireland oppose the agreement for that reason.
  • Pensioners in this country receive almost the lowest pension paid in any country in Europe. They live in the coldest homes with the highest rate of death through hypothermia, and have the worst possible conditions of all pensioners. Is that because the country is so poor that it cannot afford the pension, as Conservative Members seem to be saying, or is it because the Government prefer to spend money on other things, such as Trident submarines and the nuclear missile programme? It is question of choice. If we wish to end the monstrous death rate of pensioners every winter, something else has to go. I suggest that it is the arms programme, and I suggest the nuclear arms programme at that.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 March 1986).
  • Is the Home Secretary aware that I was one of those Members there on Saturday and I was able to observe police officers spraying members of the crowd with red paint in order to identify them for later arrest, that the police were using agents provocateurs in the crowd and that at 9.10 during the evening, when there was complete quiet throughout the crowd, a completely unprovoked dragoon-like charge was mounted by the police straight into that crowd, seriously injuring a number of people? Does not the right hon. Gentleman believe that he should go and witness the scale and ferocity of police violence against innocent, peaceful people protesting against the theft of their jobs by the Murdoch empire?
    • Question in the House of Commons (26 January 1987).
  • The Social Security Act 1986 was one of the most aggressive pieces of legislation in the past seven years. It has helped to destroy the foundations of the welfare state, which was envisaged to provide decency and security through birth, life and death for all people, irrespective of their ability to pay. Now we see means testing writ large throughout the welfare state.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (5 February 1987).
  • In my constituency there were a large number of privately rented flats and rooms occupied mostly by low-paid single people or by low-paid or unemployed families. Now those people are being persuaded—I use the word advisedly—to leave those places so that they can be converted into up-market flats or second or city homes for the wealthy. Those tenants are literally forced on to the street and come under the care of the local authority, if the local authority can provide anything. There is a great increase in homelessness, but there is no increase in the number of homes available at cheap rents. Decontrol has forced those people on to the streets and caused homelessness. It is the enemy of good housing and working-class people. We need much more money spent on local authority and social ownership schemes to provide cheap rented houses for the people who need them, not for the yuppies that the Conservative party wants to bring into central London.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (3 March 1987).
  • As my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) pointed out, many Jewish refugees fled from Russia in 1905 and from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. If the Bill had been law at that time, they could not have come here. There are also the victims of the Iran-Iraq war, the Fascist junta in Chile, and so on. The list is endless. The Minister should come clean about it. He should be honest enough to say that he is turning his back on all the asylum problems in the world. The racist connotations of not having anything to do with the problems of the Third world show that the Minister is working in concert with other European Governments to turn their backs on problems which in many cases were created by west European Governments in the first place...All that the Minister is trying to do is to appeal to the basic sense of xenophobia in the media, in the country and throughout Europe. They want to turn their backs on the problems of the rest of the world. I hope that there will be a greater sense of civilised values on this side of the House when we come to vote against the Bill than has ever been shown by the Tory party.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (16 March 1987).
  • I object strongly to the Visiting Forces Act. I see no reason why forces from a foreign power stationed in this country should be exempt from British law. I find it even more offensive that we do not even know what offences they have committed and that all we have is the information collected by Duncan Campbell and others, which has been printed in the New Statesman.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (8 April 1987).
  • The speeches by the Minister and the former Minister were an absolute disgrace in complacency, especially the assumption that market forces will solve the housing problem. If that is so, why is it that there are record numbers of homeless people? Why is it that tonight, as on every night of the year, people will be sleeping under the national theatre, in Covent Garden, around the tube stations in London and alongside the main roads? The Government, in their obsession with market forces and the triumph of the rich over the poor, are creating a hobo society. That is all they are trying to do with their housing policies...They are proposing a return to Rachmanism. They are proposing all the horrors of the Rent Act 1957: nothing but homelessness and exploitation for the unemployed, the poor and the homeless.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (28 April 1987).
  • Does the hon. Lady agree that private medicine is a drain on the NHS and takes resources away from those who cannot afford to buy their way past the hospital queues? Does she further agree that it would be logical to remove pay beds and privatised services from NHS hospitals and bring back direct labour? Would that be alliance policy?
    • Question in the House of Commons (11 May 1987).
  • What redress is now open to Mr. Bennett to clear his name, which has been smeared over every newspaper and on television and radio? He has been effectively prevented from carrying out his work in this building. What redress is open to me, if I employ someone to work with me in my duties representing the people of Islington, North and I am frustrated in doing that by an opinion offered in secret by the secret service? Is that not a negation of the democracy for which the House stands, which is meant to allow a constituency to elect a Member of Parliament to carry out his duties to the best of his ability? On this occasion, I have deliberately been frustrated by secret evidence that is not made available to me or, publicly, to anyone.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (21 October 1987).
  • In eight simple ways, my Bill seeks to provide a framework for giving pensioners a decent living standard. First, it would fix old-age pensions for couples at half average industrial earnings, and for single people it would be a third...Secondly, my Bill would require central Government to appoint a Minister responsible for the co-ordination of policy on pensioners. Thirdly, it would require local authorities to produce a comprehensive annual report about their policies on pensioners and on the conditions of pensioners in their communities. Fourthly, every health authority would also be asked to do that. Fifthly, the present anomalous system means that in some parts of the country where there are foresighted Labour local authorities there are concessionary transport schemes — free bus passes. They do not exist in some parts of Britain and the Bill would make them a national responsibility and they would be paid for nationally...My sixth point is one of the most important. It is about the introduction of a flat-rate winter heating allowance instead of the nonsensical system of waiting for the cold to run from Monday to Sunday, and then if it is sufficiently cold a rebate is paid in arrears. Last winter that resulted in many old people living in homes that were too cold because they could not afford to heat them. If they did get any aid, it was far too late. My seventh point concerns the abolition of standing charges on gas, electricity and telephones for elderly people. They are paying about £250 million a year towards the profits of the gas industry and those profits will be about £1.5 billion. Standing charges should be cancelled, unit prices maintained and the cost of the standing charge should be taken from the profits of the gas board or the electricity board — if it ends up being privatised. They could well afford to pay for that rather than forcing old people to live in cold and misery throughout the winter. Finally, the Bill would prohibit the cutting off of gas and electricity in any pensioner household.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 December 1987).
  • Is the Minister aware that the recent publication "Over Here", produced by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, lists 157 such bases, not 66 that the hon. Gentleman mentioned? Will the hon. Gentleman assure us that this army of occupation of 30,000 personnel is not spying on any British citizens or political activities in this country? ... Will the Minister further assure the House that the British Government have complete control over all activities in United States bases and that they will not allow those forces to deny civil liberties to people demonstrating outside them or to those who observe cruise missiles while they are touring around this country? Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House that it is time for the United States forces to leave this country and stop harassing British citizens and making Britain a nuclear aircraft carrier for the Pentagon?
    • Question in the House of Commons (26 April 1988).
  • There is a correlation between crude yuppies buying Porsches in the City and the number of people sleeping on the street. The tax rip-offs that are used to buy second homes, swimming pools and extended holidays mean an increase in the number of people sleeping on the street because there is insufficient public expenditure to provide housing for them. The Tories have always supported the creed which blames poverty on the poor. We believe that the poor are the victims of the society created by the Conservatives and the Government whom they so avidly support...There would indeed be no need for anyone to be homeless if a large number of previously privately rented houses were not deliberately kept empty by property speculators as a result of Government policies. It is sheer hypocrisy for Tory Members to blame the poor unfortunate people who have to sleep in cardboard boxes when they themselves put those people on the street, splash them every night as they drive past in their Porsches and kick dirt in the faces of the poor. They are the people to blame for the situation faced by so many people in London, and it is a matter of grave concern.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 June 1988).
  • Many of us are gravely suspicious about the influence of freemasonry. I am utterly opposed to it and to the influence of other secret organisations because I believe them to be a deeply corrupting influence on society. That influence has been highlighted by the case of Chief Inspector Woollard who investigated allegations of incompetence and misconduct by a building contractor working for the London borough of Islington. During his investigation, he discerned considerable masonic influence among officials in the company and in the local authority. As he came closer to concluding that the influence of freemasonry in the administration of the contract had been great, he was removed from the case and sent to the Metropolitan police's equivalent of running a power station in Siberia. Masonic influence is serious...We need a clear statement from the Home Secretary an which he makes it clear that he opposes masonic influences of any sort and that police officers should be asked to sign a declaration of interests and membership of organisations such as many local authority officers and councillors are asked to sign, Freemasonry is incompatible with being a police officer.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 June 1988).
  • Exactly what useful work did those stockbrokers do to gain their enormous wealth, other than to exploit the people who work in industry, to take their money away and to make no useful contribution to society? Does the hon. Gentleman think that the working people of London are so stupid as not to realise that stockbrokers are parasites?
    • Question in the House of Commons (12 July 1988).
  • While one welcomes aid that gets through to help the poorest people in the poorest parts of the world, does my hon. Friend share my concern that some policies, particularly those adopted by the World Bank in its advice to poor countries in receipt of loans it organises, force on those countries economic models that often involve cuts in public expenditure which make the living conditions of people dependent on public services, health, education or housing worse because those countries are pursuing some economic Valhalla similar to that pursued by the present Government? Does he believe that the Government should consider their role in multinational agencies such as the World Bank as well as my hon. Friend's obvious and quite correct concern about the lack of spending on overseas aid in general?
    • Question in the House of Commons (28 July 1988).
  • One point that cannot be answered by the United States Administration or anybody else is that made by Father Metcalfe, the priest to the Bluefields region on the Atlantic coast, which is not an area in which the Sandinistas initially had a great deal of support, although they now have much more. I am sure that Father Metcalfe will not mind me repeating that he has wondered what he can say to the people in his parish and region, to the mothers of the young men who have been killed by the Contras, to the relatives of those who have been murdered by the Contras, to the people who have lost their homes because of the Contras, and to the people who have had their crops destroyed by the Contras, about the obsession of a man a few thousand miles away in the White House who is so frightened of the process of liberation in Nicaragua that he finances terrorists to murder, kill and destroy.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (28 July 1988).
  • This is my sixth attempt to introduce the Bill with the support of hon. Members and pensioner organisations all over Britain...Many statistics show the condition of elderly people. When the Social Security Act 1988 abolished supplementary benefit and what went with it, 30 per cent. of Britain's retired population were living on or below supplementary benefit levels. Despite the Government's claim that many elderly people are quite wealthy, at that time only 39 per cent. lived more than 140 per cent. above the level of supplementary benefit. In other words, at least 60 per cent. of Britain's elderly people live at a poor level, and 30 per cent. of them live below the poverty line. That is a scandal and the House should draw attention to it and enact my Bill to improve that situation...The Bill is a seven-point plan which, if carried into law, would change the face of Britain and eliminate poverty among the elderly... Britain is the seventh richest country in the world. It is a disgrace that so many elderly people die alone and in misery through hypothermia, not for lack of resources to provide for them, but for the lack of political will to distribute those resources to ensure that pensioners are well cared for and can live in decency in their retirement.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (18 January 1989).
  • Is the Minister aware that he is getting a reputation for being a parsimonious philistine, and that he ought to give an undertaking that any income that library services choose to get from the lending of tapes or whatever else will not be taken away by loss of income support for the local authority from the Exchequer? Would it not be better if all library services of all sorts were declared free, for the benefit of everybody? That would be better than this creeping privatisation and creeping charging in the library service that the Minister seems to be encouraging.
    • Question in the House of Commons (8 February 1989).
  • In calling for the dismantling of Soviet stocks of chemical weapons, what action will the Minister take towards countries such as Iraq which have used chemical weapons in the recent past? Will he ensure that the maximum possible sanctions are taken against them to show our abhorrence of all chemical weapons wherever they are and by whomsoever they are used?
    • Question in the House of Commons (7 March 1989).
  • My hon. Friend must be aware of the words used by the Chancellor on Tuesday, when he said that, this year, the Government expect to make a surplus of £14 billion—part of which will be used to pay off the national debt. In those circumstances, would it not be more appropriate and beneficial to the rest of the world if more money were given for overseas aid and to assist the very poor countries in the usary levels of debt repayments that they are forced into at present?
    • Question in the House of Commons (17 March 1989).
  • I want to mention the British Government's attitude to poorer countries in relation to 1992 and the EEC. There was a delegation here recently led by Mr. Julian Hunte from St. Lucia concerning the implications of the Single European Act for the survival of the Windward Islands. There is a problem because of the likelihood of the closure of markets for bananas and some of the smaller eastern Caribbean countries and the low price that the producers receive for them. It is necessary for the British Government to do something to protect the markets that those islands have traditionally enjoyed. If not, they will become seriously impoverished and further indebted. They will lose out because of Britain's obsession with moving deeper into the Common Market and accepting the Common Market's single economy rather than protecting those who have traditionally supplied goods to this country.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (17 March 1989).
  • The order owes nothing to the housing needs of the British people. It is not designed to do so. It is just another example of the Tory Government slaughtering the housing needs and hopes of millions of people on the altar of the market economy, with all its gobbledegook about market forces and who will set and pay rents. I shall not say that this is a landlord's charter; it is worse than that. It is a profiteering landlord's charter. The rent officer will no longer be an independent objective person who ensures that a fair rent once fixed is adhered to and to whom one can appeal if a landlord tries to increase such a rent. People, particularly in London, will be harassed out of protected tenancies by con merchants and thrown on to the streets so that the private rented sector, the free market, can allow the level of rent to rise to its natural level—the highest that can be obtained...The effect of their deregulation has been to force up private sector rents, to have people thrown out on the streets, and there will be greater homelessness and profiteering by landlords...Most of those people who tonight are sleeping on the streets around Waterloo station, the National Theatre and along the South Bank, who are begging at the main stations of this city, who are sleeping over the grilles of tube stations on Charing Cross road, not long ago had somewhere to live. Those people are the victims of market forces, the victims of what this Government are doing and believe should be done to poor people, who cannot afford the landlords' rent.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (21 March 1989).
  • This country is very rich indeed and has enormous resources. If this House and this Government wanted to, resources could be found to provide a house for everybody in this country. There need be nobody sleeping on the streets; there need be no homelessness and no evictions because people cannot meet the kind of rents being demanded. What is required to do that is control on profiteering, and funding for local authorities to enable them to build what is required. It needs a Government determined to put in train the construction of the council houses needed for rent, rather than the pitiful level of 15,000 which have been completed this year. It is with great anger that I ask the House tonight to vote against this disgraceful order, one of the most disgraceful orders I have seen during the time I have been in this House, and one which will cause untold misery throughout this country. It is a disgrace that it should be debated in the middle of the night, when the media are not here to report this travesty of justice.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (21 March 1989).
  • I am shocked that we should be debating a Bill such as this which basically shows the Tory party's deep concern for its future. It has to scrabble round the world looking for tax dodgers, crooks, thieves and wastrels, anywhere that it can, in order to get a Tory Government re-elected in two years' time. That is what the Bill is about. It has nothing to do with democracy.
  • I am glad that my hon. Friend has raised the problems of the Kurdish people in Iraq, and I am sure that they will be grateful for that. Although the Government may not allow the export of military hardware to Iraq, is it not just as beneficial to the Iraqi Government to be given banking facilities, credits and increased trade? They have exactly the same effect of propping up the Iraqi economy, which is used to finance the war machine that is practising genocide against the Kurdish people.
    • Question in the House of Commons (14 July 1989).
  • The right hon. Gentleman should be aware that, two weeks ago, I had an interesting meeting with an environmental campaigning group from the Soviet Union who openly admitted that the industrial policies followed in the past by the Soviet Union and many countries in central and eastern Europe had done a great deal of environmental damage. The difference is that those people felt that they had the power to change the policies to stop the destruction of their own environment. The policies of free-market economies which the right hon. Gentleman propounds have led to the pollution of the North sea and the Irish sea, the destruction of the rain forests in Brazil and Malaysia and long-term serious environmental damage by multinational companies all over the southern countries of this planet.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (15 December 1989).

1990s[edit]

  • Does the Minister accept that the attitude of the EEC and of North American countries towards commodity prices has been a major contributory factor in the debt crisis in much of the world? Does she agree that the latest round of Lomé convention prices on exports from ACP countries has resulted in virtually the lowest real terms prices ever achieved by those countries? They are worried about the way in which they have been treated by the EEC. Is the right hon. Lady aware that exports from ACP countries to the European Community are at their lowest level for 25 years? Those countries and many of us are worried about the growing crisis faced by the poorer countries because the richer industrial countries are closing their markets to them and forcing them into debt and low commodity prices.
    • Question in the House of Commons (8 January 1990).
  • The free enterprise policies that produce solely for waste and for profit and that promote a consumerist mentality rather than one of need are damaging to the environment. I am in no sense defending the centralised economies of eastern Europe. They have polluted the north sea and rivers just as industries in Britain and North America have destroyed rivers, wasted natural resources and ruined people's lives by their form of pollution. It is not good enough to promote an economic system that produces for waste and to promote environmental controls in western Europe and North America to look after our environment if at the same time we transfer that destruction of the environment to poorer Third-world countries, either by exporting toxic waste and letting those countries get rid of it by whatever means they can, because they are desperate for foreign currency, or by promoting the destruction of the rain forests, through raping those countries to collect debt payments, when they can make them only by destroying all their natural resources. We live in an age when we have an opportunity to improve our environment and save ourselves from mass destruction through climatic change and environmental disasters.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (15 January 1990).
  • I believe honestly and deeply that the treatment of whales is an example of the evil intelligence of humankind in relation to the rest of the natural world. We have seen greed of the most impossible kind descending on the Arctic and the Antarctic to destroy the most intelligent and beautiful creatures that the planet can produce...We are in the process of destroying much of the planet through destruction of the ozone layer, leading to the greenhouse effect, and the destruction of life. The whale is an example of how such destruction happens. As the ozone layer is destroyed the plankton in the Southern ocean will die and the whales will lose much of their food. Last year we opposed the Antarctic Minerals Bill because we feared that it would lead to pollution of the Southern ocean and damage the whales' food supply. The Government must oppose any extension of whaling of any type, scientific or otherwise, and I hope and trust that they will do so. But we must go further. Countries which engage in the barbarity of so-called scientific whaling, which in reality is crude commercialism of the nastiest kind, deserve retribution from us all and we must bring every possible sanction to bear against them. If we do not take care of our planet and our environment, and of animals such as the whale, mankind will suffer and our planet will die because we have not cared for the natural environment that we all share.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (2 March 1990).
  • I also remind the House that the use of confessional evidence, which is the basis of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, has led to the imprisonment of the Birmingham Six, who have now served almost 16 years in British prisons. I have visited them in prison several times...My experience of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act is that it has nothing to do with the prevention of terrorism and everything to do with policing and patrolling the Irish community in this country. I have lost count of the number of occasions that I have had telephone calls late at night from Irish people who live in my constituency, who were expecting a son, a daughter, an uncle, an aunt or a father to come across to visit them from Dublin or from Belfast, but who find that they have not arrived. They ask me, "Do you know where they are?" I have no idea where they are. We then start an amazing series of telephone calls to find out whether someone is being held under the Act. A Kafka-like mystery surrounds it and it is not clear whether that person is being held until lawyers make contact and eventually application is made for a writ of habeas corpus.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 March 1990).
  • The purpose of my Bill is simply to remove the legal nicety which, at the moment, allows the hunting and killing of deer with dogs, which I believe to be a wanton cruelty. The Bill would not prohibit the culling of deer to restrict the deer population and so to protect the deer's habitat, and it would not prohibit the shooting of deer, but it would prohibit the extremely cruel practice of hunting deer with dogs...This Bill is yet another step forward in making this country's legislation on animals slightly more humane and slightly more civilised. I believe that it has overwhelming support throughout the country. Hunting with dogs and the vile killing for bloodlust in the name of sport should not be allowed in this country. The House must represent the views of the vast majority of people throughout the country and pass this legislation to remove this so-called sport, which I believe to be an obscenity, from legal sanction in this country and to abolish it so that we may have fair legislation that guarantees the safety of animals and prohibits and outlaws the cruelty to animals that is part of so-called sport.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (19 June 1990).
  • If we are to ban CFC production completely, as I believe that we should, we must also accept that considerable support must be given to other countries which wish to continue to produce refrigerators and similar products. The technology to produce those goods without CFCs must be transferred to China, India and other countries which need it. If that does not happen, we cannot lecture those countries about producing CFCs while we hold that technology to ourselves and use it as an economic lever against poorer countries and poorer people throughout the world. The economic imbalance between countries is at the root of the world's problems...If we are to sort out the problems of poverty and of the environment, we require a real restructuring of the world's economy. That will not be achieved by imposing a model of market forces on the poorest people in the poorest countries but by paying those people for the products that they produce, not hoarding technological advances for ourselves but sharing and spreading them around the world, and not persuading and pushing countries to revert to monoculture production, which is dangerous and damaging to the environment.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (26 June 1990).
  • Politics in this country are dominated by debates about our relationship with Europe and the Eurocentralism that goes with that. I am firmly an internationalist, so I am not necessarily opposed to Europe. However, I am opposed to a fortress Europe that basically creates wealth for itself at the expense of the world, creates an undemocratic control of government for the whole of Europe, and, in truth, works only for the good of multinational corporations and banking systems. It will cause further imbalances in world poverty and world trade arrangements. I view the free market of 1992 not as an opportunity, but as a disaster for very many people throughout the world. I believe that Europe will contribute to the economic problems of the world. I do not agree with the sort of racist nonsense that has been published in the Sun and other newspapers during the past few weeks. It is a disgusting way to report matters. However, I believe that the drive towards a market economy in Europe will create poverty on the rims of Europe and an inner-colonialism in which western Europe will act as a sort of colonial master for eastern Europe and much of the rest of the world. It is about time that we began to take an international and global view rather than shut ourselves into a Europe that does not act in a socially just and reasonable manner. I hope that the debate will now begin to turn on those matters.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 November 1990).
  • I have never been a supporter of or an apologist for Saddam Hussein. Indeed, I recall many lonely occasions in the House when I spoke against Saddam Hussein, his genocide against the Kurdish people and the way that the British Government were financing the re-arming of Iraq. Indeed, the chemical weapons being manufactured in Iraq largely comprise chemicals made in western Europe and north America. Some £1 billion was loaned to Saddam Hussein by British banks, with the agreement of the British Government. His power is largely the creation of western Europe and north America. I do not support him and I do not think that he was right to invade Kuwait...The only purpose of sending troops to the region is to defend and guarantee oil supplies. I find it difficult to accept that the United States is merely defending a small country against a larger country. If that were true, why were Grenada and Panama invaded? What was the Vietnam war about, other than a powerful United States wishing to extend its control and influence throughout the world? ...If the shooting starts and there is war in the Gulf, the retaking of Kuwait will not be a clean, clinical operation—it will be a filthy and long war with hundreds of thousands of dead, and at the end of that war there will still have to be negotiations on the future order and the future government of that area and those countries.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 November 1990).
  • There will have to be three objects for farming and farm products. First, we must end over-production. The over-production that is taking place in Europe and the United States is damaging and obscenely wasteful. It is damaging to the environment, and it is obviously obscenely wasteful when products that are the result of over-production are being burnt in an attempt to maintain prices...Secondly, we must end export dumping. Instead, we must promote aid and trade policies that encourage self-reliant production, which is more protective of the local economy and less dependent on the economies of western Europe and of the United States...Thirdly, what happens to the political sovereignty of poor countries that do not have the infrastructure that is available in Europe and north America when they are told that, because of the debt crisis, they must open up their economies to multinational capital to do whatever it will, and when the IMF and the World bank tell them that they must cut social expenditure? They are now told that they must pursue free trade policies for farm products. Those policies add up to disaster for poor countries.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (23 November 1990).
  • Far from there being a constant flow of resources and aid from northern countries to southern countries, the opposite is the case, and has been for most of the past 200 years. Colonialism was not about exporting civilisations; it was not about improving the lot of people in the poorest countries—it was driven by greed and avarice and a determination to control other people's lives. It was about ensuring that the work, the raw materials and the food of the poorer countries flowed out to the richest parts of the world. That is the legacy of colonialism and imperialism that we have to deal with today. I honestly believe that the role of the world's twin financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World bank, is essentially to reassert that old-world order so that once more a minority of northern, predominantly rich countries dominate the majority of southern, predominantly poor countries.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (14 December 1990).
  • Unless we address those problems from the point of view of a world where development is genuinely sustainable, where protection of the environment is vital, where the earth's wealth is redistributed in favour of the poorest people in the poorest countries, in the next few years we shall face a growing imbalance between north and south. Ever-increasing numbers of people will flee from environmental destruction—from rain forest destruction, increased desertification and the increased flooding linked to that. Millions of people will have to flee from the places where they grew up and live and there will be growing imbalances in the world, and growing poverty. There has to be a change in the relationship. That means that higher prices must be paid for commodities. It means that there must be an increased aid programme, and an understanding that we are all in this together.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (14 December 1990).
  • The idea that nuclear weapons deter anyone is laughable and horrific. We have the greatest chance ever to rid the world of nuclear weapons now, yet the consensus in this country is apparently that we need to maintain three Trident systems and possibly build a fourth at a total cost of more than £23 billion.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 November 1991).
  • Does he concede that the whole basis of the Maastricht treaty is the establishment of a European central bank which is staffed by bankers, independent of national Governments and national economic policies, and whose sole policy is the maintenance of price stability? That will undermine any social objective that any Labour Government in the United Kingdom—or any other Government—would wish to carry out. Does my hon. Friend recognise that the imposition of a bankers' Europe on the people of this continent will endanger the cause of socialism in the United Kingdom and in any other country?
    • Question in the House of Commons (13 January 1993).
  • My hon. Friend is right in saying that the Bank of England has often operated against the interests of Labour Governments. That is due to the mandarins who run it. If the hon. Gentleman has such doubts about the running of a bank which theoretically is state-owned and state-controlled, what influence does he think will be possible in the case of an independent central bank dedicated to a course of Euro-monetarism?
    • Question in the House of Commons (14 January 1993).
  • Does the Secretary of State not think that there is a case for ensuring that there are permanent representatives of at least Latin America and Africa on the Security Council? Does he not think that consideration should be given of the removal of the power of veto of the permanent members of the Security Council in order to make the organisation more democratic and more reflective of the world's population as a whole?
    • Question in the House of Commons (23 February 1993).
  • Does the Secretary of State agree that it is time for a serious review of Britain's defence expenditure, which now totals more than £23 billion a year? Should not we cancel the nuclear missile programme and consign all nuclear missiles back to base as part of a programme of worldwide disarmament? Should not we try to cut conventional expenditure to at least the European average, which would save £6 billion a year? Should not we also ensure that skilled workers who are at present manufacturing weapons of mass destruction and other forms of armaments are put to making socially useful products, including materials for the health service and housing industry—and recognise that world peace is best achieved by people working for peace rather than by arming themselves for war?
    • Question in the House of Commons (9 March 1993).
  • If my hon. Friend is now envisaging the establishment of a federal Europe, will he not reflect that the Maastricht treaty does not take us in the direction of the checks and balances contained in the American federal constitution? It takes us in the opposite direction of an unelected legislative body—the Commission—and, in the case of foreign policy, a policy Commission that will be, in effect, imposing foreign policy on nation states that have fought for their own democratic accountability.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (30 March 1993).
  • There are many imperfections in the workings of the British constitution: we do not live in a democracy, we do not have an elected head of state or an elected upper Chamber, and we do not have an accountable judiciary. We have only an elected House of Commons, in which the Prime Minister can use the royal prerogative virtually to pass legislation. Indeed, the Government were legally advised that the Maastricht treaty could be passed in that way. However, there is some accountability for what the Executive are doing in terms of foreign and defence policy. Under the Maastricht treaty, with a common foreign and defence policy, that accountability will not exist. It will not exist in the European Parliament, which can question but not call to account. It will not exist here, because we shall always be told that policy is being made somewhere else.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (30 March 1993).
  • It seems that we are revisiting the whole argument about a European central bank. Many of us have the deepest misgivings about the establishment of such a bank, with no accountability to member states and an office life of eight years, in which it can do what it likes, provided that it supports the market economy throughout Europe, despite the social consequences. There is no time limit on the period of office of the political directors, and there is nothing about who they would be or where they would come from. But I ask the quite serious question: what on earth are these political directors to do, where do they come from, to whom are they answerable and how do we get rid of them if we do not like what they do?
    • Speech in the House of Commons (30 March 1993).
  • I thank the Foreign Secretary for giving way. I assure him that at least 60 Labour Members voted against the Bill on Second Reading and I am sure that they will vote against the Maastricht treaty again tonight, primarily because it takes away from national Parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation and high unemployment throughout the European Community.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (20 May 1993).
  • The world is a troubled and divided place. I will conclude with this thought. As we speak, the poorest of the poor countries in the world are getting poorer. There is more unemployment, poverty, homelessness and hunger. Resources are being transferred rapidly from the poor to the rich. Most conflicts stem from poverty and from arguments about resources and power. If one tenth of the money that this country is putting into the defence estimates had gone to the people of Somalia and the other countries that were facing terrible economic strife in the 1970s and 1980s, perhaps there would not be the awful conflicts in that region now. We should be dedicating ourselves to a peaceful world, rather than arming ourselves for war upon war upon war. We should deal with the basic problems of the planet. I hoped at least that there would be a defence review. The review could look at what is, I believe, the unanswerable case for a large reduction in Britain's military spending to make an example to the rest of the world.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (18 October 1993).
  • Does the Minister agree that now is the time to repeal the emergency legislation and give the right to a jury trial to everyone in Northern Ireland—a right that has been denied to them for nearly 15 years or more? Does he agree that it is a fundamental right of all citizens that they should have an opportunity, if they are indicted on a serious charge, to appear before a jury, not before the fundamentally unfair system of a judge sitting with no jury and making decisions?
    • Question in the House of Commons (16 February 1995).

2010s[edit]

2015[edit]

  • I say thank you in advance to us all working together to achieve great victories, not just electorally 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.
    • Speech Jeremy Corbyn’s victory speech as Labour leader (11 September 2015).
  • So I thought my first Prime Ministers Question time I'd do in a slightly different way and I'm sure the Prime Minister's going to absolutely welcome this as he welcomed this idea in 2005 but something has seemed to have happened to his memory during that period. So I sent out an email to thousands of people and asked them what questions they would like to put to the Prime Minister, and I recieved forty thousand replies.
    • Speech Jeremy Corbyn makes his debut as leader of the opposition (16 September 2015).
  • I am opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. I am opposed to the holding of nuclear weapons. I want to see a nuclear-free world. I believe it is possible. I do not think we should be renewing Trident... I think we should be promoting an international nuclear weapons convention which would lead to a nuclear-free world.

2016[edit]

  • [The Maastricht Treaty] takes away from national parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation and high unemployment throughout the European Community
  • There’s a lot of debate about what’s happening in the Labour party at the present time. And I am inundated with questions, questions, questions all the time. And I have patience that is infinite to answer questions, questions, questions. But one I got today really did puzzle me. They said: how are you coping with the pressure that’s on you? I simply said this: ‘There is no pressure on me. None whatsoever.’ The real pressure, the real pressure – real pressure – is when you don’t have enough money to feed your kids, when you don’t have a roof over your head, when you're wondering if you're going to be cared for. When you're wondering how you can survive. You're wondering how you're going to cope with the debts you've incurred … That is the real pressure in our society. For those people struggling on low pay, struggling on zero-hours contracts, not knowing what's coming from one week to the other, not knowing if they'll be able to pay the rent, not knowing if they're going to be homeless, not knowing if their children will end up in care, that's the kind of brutal pressure that's put on people every day of the week in this country.
  • We believe a leave vote will put many of those things seriously and immediately at risk. We also want to extend those rights and we best extend those rights by working with trade unions, labour parties and socialist parties all across Europe in the interest of the working people all across the continent.
  • I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today's vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy. We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour Party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.
  • Our economy is fragile so we must begin to rebuild it. Our duty now is to move forward in a calm and conciliatory manner to build a new relationship with Europe and build a Britain that works for everyone in every part of this country.

2017[edit]

  • I talk to people in the Muslim community, I talk to people in mosques, I talk to people in churches, I talk to people that go to synagogues, all kinds of different faiths and different groups. I think what Prevent has often done is seen to target the Muslim community, not anybody else, looks to say there is a kind of suspicion over the whole community and it's actually often counter-productive.
  • The manifesto makes it very clear that the Labour Party has come to a decision and is committed to Trident. We're also going to look at the real security needs of this country on other areas such as cyber security, which I think the attack on our NHS last week proved there needs to be some serious re-examination of our defences against those kind of attacks.
  • The technology of the digital age should empower us both as workers and consumers, allowing us to co-operate on a scale in a way that wasn't possible in the past
  • Some were extremely irresponsible in what they did and said, but we have to recognise it was the largest participation of people in an electoral process ever in Britain and they chose to leave.
  • We have had a referendum which came to a decision. The negotiations are still ongoing, albeit well behind schedule, and we've set out the kind of relationship we want to have with Europe in the future.

2018[edit]

  • We have long argued that a customs union is a viable option for the final deal. So Labour would seek to negotiate a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union to ensure that there are no tariffs with Europe and to help avoid any need for a hard border in Northern Ireland.
  • [The civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has] probably claimed more lives than any other conflict since the Second World War
  • For the last 40 years... we've been told that it's good - advanced even - for our country to manufacture less and less and rely instead on cheap labour abroad to produce imports, while we focus on the City of London and the finance sector. A lack of support for manufacturing industry is sucking the dynamism out of our economy, pay from the pockets of our workers and any hope of secure, well-paid jobs from a generation of young people.
  • I was present when it was laid. I don't think I was actually involved in it. I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who has died in every terrorist incident everywhere because we have to end it. You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence. The only way you pursue peace is a cycle of dialogue.
  • He did withdraw it later on, he has been suspended from membership, there will be an independent investigation - independent of me that is - so I can't comment any further. There's no place whatsoever for anti-Semitisim in our party or anywhere in our society and our whole process is to ensure it doesn't happen.
  • I are very concerned, however, to make sure there can be open and proper debate about Israel and its foreign policy, and about the future for Palestinian people. Hence there has to be that space for debate, you cannot shut that down. But it can never, ever be conducted in an anti-Semitic way.
  • I described those pro-Israel activists as Zionists, in the accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people - and that is made clear in the rest of my speech that day. I am now more careful with how I might use the term 'Zionist' because a once self-identifying political term has been increasingly hijacked by anti-Semites as code for Jews.

2019[edit]

  • The government must remove clearly, once and for all, the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal exit from the EU and all the chaos that would come as a result of that
  • One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent no deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May's overwhelmingly rejected deal. That's why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.
  • Theresa May should not be rolling out the red carpet for a state visit to honour a president who rips up vital international treaties, backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric. Maintaining an important relationship with the United States does not require the pomp and ceremony of a state visit. It is disappointing that the prime minister has again opted to kowtow to this US administration. I would welcome a meeting with President Trump to discuss all matters of interest.
  • Equal pay for equal work is hardly a controversial idea, so why are we discriminating against young people? You don't get a discount at the shops for being under 18. But if the person serving you on the other side of the counter is young, they could be on half the wage of their colleagues. It's time to end this discrimination. Young people's work should be properly valued, not exploited by employers to cut their wage bill. If they're doing the job, pay them the wage - the real living wage.
  • [No-deal Brexit] won't return sovereignty, it will put us at the mercy of Trump and the big US corporations dying to get their teeth into our NHS, sound the death knell for our steel industry and strip back our food standards and animal welfare protections.
  • Boris Johnson's pursuit of a no-deal Brexit will be a disaster for the whole country. He is putting at risk Scottish jobs in manufacturing, food processing and service industries. His intention to suspend Parliament shows he is also a threat to our democracy. The best way to defeat Johnson is sticking together, electing a Labour government and allowing it to get on with sorting the Tory Brexit nightmare and introducing policies that will see transformative investment in Scotland's people, communities and public services. Scottish independence is not the answer to Johnson. Independence will only further prolong and intensify austerity and create more instability and chaos.
  • The British people must have a chance to decide the end of this process. We've had a referendum in 2016, we've had all the debate and we now have a PM trying to take us over a cliff-edge in a few weeks' time. That's entirely wrong. That's why I did all I could to work with opposition parties to legislate to ensure that he had to negotiate an extension.

Quotes about Corbyn[edit]

External links[edit]

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