What does Jeremy Corbyn stand for?

A radical left-wing fantasist or a champion of traditional Labour values? Mischa Frankl-Duval asks what the Labour party would look like under Jeremy Corbyn.


Jeremy Corbyn has beguiled the young and the left-leaning

The race for the Labour leadership has precisely one interesting talking point: Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn secured his place on the leadership ballot just minutes before the deadline. But since then, the left-winger has lit a fire under the Labour electorate. A private poll leaked to the Daily Mirror yesterday shows Corbyn 20 points ahead of Yvette Cooper.

The MP for Islington North is now the 5/4 favourite to lead the party.

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Corbyn has beguiled the young and the left-leaning, but caused concern amongst conservatives and moderates alike. So what would a Labour party under Corbyn look like? Below we've looked at five of the "unreconstructed Marxist dinosaur's" most divisive policies.

Higher taxes and more money printing

Corbyn reckons that as much as £120bn a year could be recouped by the tax office. Based on figures from tax campaigner Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK, Corbyn says this is £20bn in uncollected tax debts, £20bn in tax avoidance, and a whopping £80bn in tax evasion. (HMRC puts the tax gap' at more like £34bn.)

On top of that, he reckons another £93bn can be raised by cutting "tax reliefs and subsidies to the corporate sector". This money would be diverted to a National Investment Bank, which would "head a multi-billion-pound programme of infrastructure upgrades and support for high-tech and innovative industries". He's also suggested that the Bank of England could print money to fund house building, "energy, transport and digital projects".

"You don't close the deficit fairly or sustainably through cuts", said Corbyn last week in his first major speech on the economy. "You close it through growing a balanced and sustainable economy that works for all."

Corbyn's anti-austerity drive would also see him propose higher taxes on higher-earning individuals.

No university tuition fees

Under plans proposed this month, Corbyn would scrap university tuition fees entirely. To plug the resulting £10.1bn hole, Corybn would raise national insurance by 7% for those earning more than £50,000, raise corporation tax by 2.5% and slow the rate of deficit reduction.

Corbyn "apologise[d] on behalf of the Labour party" for the institution by previous Labour governments of fees, top-up fees and the replacement of grants with loans. Corbyn noted that he "opposed those changes at the time", and planned to do so again.

Ed Miliband's suggestion of reducing tuition fees to £6,000 a year was roundly criticised by centrists and conservatives. Corbyn's plan to scrap tuition fees entirely though wildly popular with young Labour supporters is considered unfeasible by more or less anyone to the right of Corbyn.

Think George Osborne is tough on landlords? You ain't seen nothing yet

Corbyn wants to give 'Generation Rent' a better chance of owning a home by extending the right to buy to privately-owned properties. "Why not go with right to buy, with the same discounts as offered by way of subsidised mortgage rates?" says Corbyn, "but for private tenants, and funded by withdrawing the £14bn tax allowances currently given to buy-to-let landlords".

To be fair to Corbyn, the Conservative government is already aiming to extend right to buy for the tenants of housing associations these may be not-for-profit landlords, but it's still a case of the government offering discounts on someone else's privately-owned property.

So in a way, extending the policy to for-profit landlords is only logical (as Merryn Somerset Webb pointed out).

But Corbyn's vision for housing doesn't stop there. Hehas also backed government-set rent controls, and has long been vocal on the need for more council houses.

Oppose welfare cuts

Among the Labour leadership candidates, Corbyn was the only one to reject the government's welfare bill out of hand. The bill's central proposals were a reduction in the benefits cap (from £26,000 to £23,000 a year), the abolition of legally-binding child poverty targets, cuts to child tax credits and cuts to housing benefit for those under 21. Corbyn attacked the bill as "rotten and indefensible", predicting that it would increase child poverty.

Abolish the nuclear deterrent

Unlike the Conservative government, and his three rivals for the Labour leadership, Corbyn opposes the £100bn renewal of Trident. He is both a vice-chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and chair of the CND parliamentary group.

Writing last year, Corbyn suggested that spending billions on Trident when "faced with all the demands of health, housing, transport infrastructure and investment in manufacturing" would be deeply irresponsible. That £100bn would go some way, after all, to paying for all those maintenance grants, houses and tax credits.

Mischa graduated from New College, Oxford in 2014 with a BA in English Language and Literature. He joined MoneyWeek as an editor in 2014, and has worked on many of MoneyWeek’s financial newsletters. He also writes for MoneyWeek magazine and MoneyWeek.com.