Jeremy Corbyn has launched Labour’s election campaign with a stinging attack on the City’s “asset strippers” and “greedy bankers”, vowing to bring about a day of reckoning.
The Labour leader yesterday blasted what he sees as the UK’s “rigged system”, claiming both Westminster and the economy “are run in the interests of the few”.
In a policy-light speech, Corbyn railed against the banking sector, Sir Philip Green and Southern Rail in the same breath, as well as “press barons” and “crooked financiers”.
“When Labour wins there will be a reckoning for those who thought they could get away with asset stripping our industry, crashing our economy through their greed and ripping off workers and consumers,” he said.
Millionaire Labour party donor and JML founder John Mills told City A.M. that Corbyn’s comments would do little to improve the party’s strained relationship with businesses.
However, Mills said: “What Labour is doing is trying to consolidate its support in areas where it’s still strong, and this sort of rhetoric probably does go down quite well with a lot of its hardcore support.
“My view is that we want to be winning power and doing things to make the country run better, but I’m not sure that’s quite what the strategy is at the moment.
“This is about trying to avoid losing core support. It’s not what the business world wants to hear, but it does consolidate support.”
Responding to the speech, Conservative party chairman Patrick McLoughlin called Corbyn’s comments “angry, divisive and chaotic”.
“He didn’t mention the deficit or controlling immigration – because he’d wreck our economy with higher taxes and more debt,” McLoughlin said.
Iain Anderson, executive chairman at City lobbying firm Cicero, said Corbyn’s remarks would be ignored inside the Square Mile.
“Nobody is listening. I have never seen an electoral cycle where business is more disinterested in Labour. Nobody is asking about what Labour is going to do next, nobody is tracking it with any significance,” Anderson said.
“The reality of this election is that normally there is a sense of nervousness in the markets, but there is none of that at all. It’s a completely priced-in Tory win and therefore the only thing the City has been really keen to do is influence the Tory manifesto.”
At the start of this week Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party opened up the biggest lead on record for polls conducted by research firm ICM, suggesting it remains on track for a sweeping win in next month’s election. It was the latest of several polls showing the Tories more than 20 points ahead.