Jeremy Corbyn: Labour could win snap general election

Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament

The Conservative government has had “a field day” amid Labour divisions, Jeremy Corbyn has said in a Guardian interview, while insisting he believes the party could win a snap general election.

The Labour leader said he was “deeply disappointed” rather than angry about a revolt by his MPs in the wake of the EU referendum, which saw a string of frontbench resignations and a challenge to his position from Owen Smith.

Corbyn argued that Labour had been making good progress under his leadership despite what he called a “systematic undermining” from the media. He said the parliamentary revolt had however assisted Theresa May’s position as the new prime minister.

“It’s when that cooperation broke down, the Tories started to have a field day,” Corbyn said. “So I say to colleagues in parliament, think very carefully about this. We have defeated them on a lot of things, and we can continue to do that.”

While Corbyn is the favourite to win the leadership election, his party is lagging significantly behind the Tories in opinion polls. Nevertheless, when asked whether Labour could win a potential snap election this autumn or next spring, Corbyn seemed confident. “We’re going to go for it and win it,” he said.

Asked to summarise the core policies he would offer to the nation, Corbyn cited ideas such as returning Royal Mail and the railways to public ownership, greater investment in the economy and wages, and a less punitive benefits system.

He described what he saw as the difference between the Labour and Conservative offerings by saying: “Do you want to be bargain-basement Britain on the edge of Europe, cutting corporate taxation, having very low wages, having grotesque inequalities of wealth? Or do you want to be a high-wage, high-investment economy that actually does provide decent chances and opportunities for all?”

Under Corbyn, Labour’s membership and cohort of registered supporters has increased to approximately 500,000. However, there are criticisms that too many of these new arrivals are more proactive with social media than than the more prosaic business of canvassing and door-knocking.

Corbyn conceded this was an issue. “In some places there has been an increase in participation, but not of a proportion that links to the increase in membership,” he said. “I think there’s a need for the Labour party to look culturally at what it does in its constituencies.”

The Labour leader said he had raised the issue with the party’s national executive committee, but said also that one issue was that “the day-to-day culture of constituency parties is often very wooden”.

Corbyn said more active campaigning was starting to emerge. “That is beginning to happen in some places. It’s got a long way to go.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Peter Walker and Owen Jones, for theguardian.com on Friday 29th July 2016 13.54 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010