The following blog was written by George Gibson, an Associate based in our Manchester office.
Newgate attended the launch of the Labour Party’s General Election campaign in Manchester on Tuesday, as Jeremy Corbyn announced his vision for the country ahead of the manifesto launch. Introduced by former Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh as the head of “a movement of people who give a toss about stuff,” Corbyn was greeted with a riotous reception from the near thousand Labour activists in the hall, with the Shadow Cabinet sat behind him to show unity in the face of what has been a leadership characterised by internal division.
The launch was deemed by many in the media as light on firm policy pledges but big on direction as the Labour Leader took the opportunity to position himself as firmly anti-establishment following the success of the Brexit campaign and Donald Trump. He attacked the Conservatives as the party of “tax cheats and media barons,” and time and again the Labour strapline for this campaign was repeated, “for the many, not the few”.
Corbyn insisted that this election was not about Brexit, but the type of Brexit. In an attempt to infiltrate the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit labels, Labour will pursue a ‘jobs first’ Brexit which will seek to protect the interests of, you guessed it, “the many, not the few”. The pledge made at the last party conference to build a million new homes to rent or buy was reiterated and new infrastructure, investment in skills, greater funding for the NHS and social care were all promised. Effective large banners on the walls dotted all around the hall made short and snappy commitments included ‘public ownership of rail’ and ‘decent homes for all’ as Labour look to make memorable pledges that stick in voters’ minds.
What is clear is that a Jeremy Corbyn premiership would see his Government heavily investing in infrastructure such as the railways and new homes, as well as public services. Here at Newgate we specialise in communications and stakeholder engagement in just these areas, and so will be watching carefully to see how these pledges actually play out during the campaign.
With just four weeks left now until voters go to the polls the battle lines are drawn. Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable leadership’ will come up against Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘movement of people who give a toss about stuff’ in what should be an extremely interesting campaign. Time will tell if Labour can recover from the estimated 20 point deficit in the polls to thwart a Conservative majority.