Corbyn: 'Only turning fire on ourselves will hold Labour back'
Jeremy Cobyn has told party members in Dundee that unlike other political parties, Labour is not obsessed with constitutional issues but with tackling the problems of people's daily lives.
A significant part of the veteran left winger's speech was dedicated to climate change, something welcomed by both party members and climate justice campaign group Friends of the Earth.
The Labour leader also tackled disunity in the party after nine MPs recently resigned the whip in Westminster, telling members that the only thing which could stop Labour would be the party "turning in on itself" rather than the Conservatives.
"That doesn't mean we have no room for disagreement. Discussion and debate are the lifeblood of our democracy," he said, adding later: "The only thing that can hold us back is if we were to turn our fire on each other rather than on the Tory government and the wealthy establishment interests they represent."
Speaking on climate change, Corbyn said that the destruction of the climate was "fundamentally a class issue": "It’s working class communities that suffer the worst pollution and the worst air quality.
"It’s working class people who will lose their jobs as resources run dry. And it’s working class people who will be left behind as the rich escape rising sea levels.
"And when animals and insects are dying out in alarming numbers as their habitats are destroyed we all lose out.
"Biodiversity isn’t a niche concern. It affects us all. Big corporations will never do anything serious the climate crisis.
"The Conservative government will never do anything serious about it either. But Labour will make it a central objective of our industrial strategy.
"We need to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2050 at the latest, it’s not just an ecological priority, it’s a socialist priority too."
Mike Williamson, a member in Edinburgh Central who was previously a member of the Scottish Greens, said it was great to see Corbyn tackle climate change with the urgency it deserves.
Speaking to The Red Robin, Williamson said: "The class-based approach to climate change that he describes is not only welcome, it's essential.
We have no hope of beating climate change without Labour's policies like a National Investment Bank and a progressive industrial strategy. Relying on the free market to save us simply will not work."
Friends of the Earth Scotland also welcomed Corbyn's focus on the climate. Mary Church, head of campaigns, said: "Tackling a crisis of this proportion requires difficult decisions to be made now and implemented over the next decade. We cannot afford to delay serious climate action until the middle of the century."
Elsewhere in his speech, Corbyn laid out what he described as the "real divide" in politics, and said Labour was obsessed with improving peoples daily lives rather than on the EU and Independence questions.
On Brexit, the Labour leader said his approach was driven by Labour's support for the working class. He said the party's alternative is "credible and has the potential to win the support of parliament."
"Discussions with Michael Barnier and others in Brussels have convinced me that it could be negiotiated with the EU," he said.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard will follow Corbyn's speech to members in Dundee tomorrow [Saturday].
Image: Andy Miah