Jeremy Corbyn is expected to promise that a Labour government would tackle discrimination by forcing all but the smallest firms to carry out compulsory pay audits of their staff, as he launches his campaign for re-election as party leader on Thursday.
Labour is keen to show that Corbyn and his shadow cabinet, which has been diminished by scores of resignations since the EU referendum last month, can still produce radical new policies. His team have been stung by accusations from his rival Owen Smith that he has failed to turn slogans into concrete plans.
David Cameron’s government introduced compulsory pay audits for firms with over 250 staff, to reveal whether they are discriminating against female employees.
Corbyn is expected to say a future Labour government would extend that policy to every firm with at least 21 staff; and to cover other potentially disadvantaged groups, including disabled people and employees from ethnic minority backgrounds.
In a speech in London as he formally launches his campaign against his challenger, Corbyn is expected to say he wants to update social reformer William Beveridge’s “five evils”, for the 21st century – and plans to announce policies over the next five months to tackle each of them, with the first being “discrimination”.
“The injustices that scar society today are not those of 1945: want, squalor, idleness, disease and ignorance. And they have changed since I first entered parliament in 1983. Today what is holding people back above all are inequality, neglect, insecurity, prejudice and discrimination,” he is expected to say.
“In my campaign I want to confront all five of those ills head on … setting out, not only how Labour will campaign against these injustices in opposition, but also spelling out some of the measures the next Labour government will take to overcome them and move decisively towards a society in which opportunity and prosperity is truly shared.”
He is expected to say that 65 years on from the Equal Pay Act, “women are over-represented in the lowest paying sectors: cleaning, catering and caring – vital sectors of our economy, doing valuable work, but not work that is fairly rewarded or equally respected”.
Corbyn’s launch, the first of a series of campaign events over the summer as the two men go head to head over the future of their party, takes place against the background of a bitter row within Labour about the ground rules for the race, with at least two legal challenges underway.
New members who have joined since January have not been allowed to vote; and supporters wishing to sign up to be involved had to pay £25. Labour announced on Wednesday that more than 180,000 had chosen to do so.
Labour’s membership has drastically expanded, to more than 500,000, since Corbyn swept to the leadership last autumn; but more than 80% of the party’s MPs recently declined to back him in a vote of no confidence, and many have resigned from the front bench, complaining about weak leadership.
His team announced yesterday that the new Brexit ministry would be shadowed by Emily Thornberry, who is already shadow foreign secretary – one of several frontbenchers now juggling two portfolios.
This article was written by Heather Stewart Political editor, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 20th July 2016 21.48 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010