Jeremy Corbyn’s Interview with Weekly Desh : “We need a fairer and more balanced society”
প্রকাশিত হয়েছে : ৬:০৫:১৪,অপরাহ্ন ১৬ এপ্রিল ২০২০
Jeremy Corbyn urges the Weekly Desh readers to back Labour in Thursday’s election to end a decade of austerity and offer Britain a fairer and more balanced society. In his interview with Taysir Mahmud, the Editor of the Weekly Desh, Jeremy Corbyn talked about a wide range of issues including NHS, Brexit, Immigration and racism. The interview was taken on Sunday, the 17th of November, 2019 at the Birkbeck University library in Gordon Square, Central London. The audio recording of the interview has been transcripted in a question and answer format by Mr. Puru Miah.
Q. How do you think the campaign is going?
Jeremy Corbyn: Extremely well. We called the election, 19 days ago, I think. Within two days we had a mass rally in the Battersea Art Centre, I was already on the road visiting constituencies. 30 constituencies already. The number of people already helping is massive, and it’s showing itself in the results on the doorstep. The number of people engages with the community is already showing, but it’s also about communities engaged in conversation. We have zoom call, where we are speaking to hundreds if not thousands of people at the same time. It’s going extremely well, when much of the print media is hostile to us, during election time, the broadcasting rules, equal time to parties, and that helps us. That helps us a great deal, of media coverage, and there is social media. My twitter following is over 2 million.
Q. Do you believe that Labour will win? If so, why and how would you attract the majority of voters?
Jeremy Corbyn: We have to gain constituencies all over the country, Scotland, as well as the English Midlands and there are some in London to gain. We have targeted 95 constituencies, going out there and we are doing it all the time. I’ve done over 100 constituency visits, this year, and there will be many more between December 12th. I’ve spent a lot of time meeting and listening to people. Places and different communities. I have visited cafes and restaurants, community centers, colleges, factories, offices, you learn by listening.
Q. Can you tell us the key pledges in your manifesto that will attract voters? Regarding NHS, Housing, Free Broadband and Electric Cars?
Jeremy Corbyn: We will launch our full manifesto, on Thursday in a few days time in Birmingham, you will like it. We have made a number of policy announcements, in the lead up to that. One of which I made in Lancaster, in the North West on Friday, which we made about Free broadband. Free Broadband brought in over 10 years will cost £20 billion, £5 billion the government has already committed, which is insufficient.
Q. How will you cover it?
Jeremy Corbyn: We will pay for it through our National Investment Bank, we will pay for it through the Green Fund, and other transformation funds. I think access to good quality broadband should be available to all. South Korea has 95% access to good quality broadband, this country has less than 10%. It is the poorest community that get the worst broadband access, in our rollout, we will start with the areas that have the worst broadband coverage, the poor inner-city areas, and rural communities where there is not any. It means getting a business development in a poor area, simply does not happen. For example, you are opening a trading warehouse, in an area with very poor broadband, you have to go on the internet all the time. Get orders, you have to place orders if you have an inadequate computer network, then your business cannot thrive. If you are a farm in a rural part of Britain, develop from straight food growing to process, you need to be on the internet. You need to have the access, its the modern way of doing things.
People call this extreme, I call this a natural progression, what is public provision. In the 19th century, we went from no postal service to universal postal service. We have advanced from a private supply of water, well or through buying it, to a public provision of water. To me, access to broadband is the way most of our communities, communicate with each other. Most young people communicate via the internet, the don’t write letters and they don’t read newspapers. This investment and I call it an investment, will actually benefit the whole community, and also save £30 pound a month, on average per family on subscription.
Q. A lot of cabby drivers are from the Bangladeshi community, many want to drive electric cars but cannot afford them. Can you please explain Labour’s policy of giving interest-free loans for electric cars?
Jeremy Corbyn: A lot of people are cabbies and delivery drivers. They need their vehicles to do that. We also live in an era of climate emergency and the disasters that come out of that. We can approach the climate emergency out of fear, or we can approach it out of opportunity. The poorest people in the poorest countries, poorest parts suffer the most. Bangladesh suffers floods, Maldives suffer floods, Mozambique etc
Or we can approach it as an investment for the future. To make the air cleaner in the cities and reduce CO2 emissions. The only way we can do that is to do a hybrid and electric cars. That I fully support and want to do. But, if we do it in an unfair way, those people who are self-drive taxi drivers will be pushed out of the market, because they can’t afford to buy electric cars. We will support the equivalent of the scrappage scheme the Mayor of London has introduced, and provide support for buying electric vehicles. Those people at the moment who are driving older vehicles that are more polluting can transfer and will not suffer in the process. We will benefit from clean air as a result. The poorest communities, who live alongside the busiest roads, suffer the most, loss of lung capacity even before they get to school. This is a very serious issue, I want all of our children to breathe clean air.
Q. Boris Johnson as PM, one of his first statement was that he will review immigration policy and regularise the status of those who have no legal status to stay, what is Labour’s Offer on Immigration?
Jeremy Corbyn: We will review all those cases, in particular, those who have stayed over 10 years. You will have to wait for our manifesto for the full details.
Q. Can you explain Labour stance on Immigration, especially the presumption to grant rather than refuse visas?
Jeremy Corbyn: Theresa May with the support of the Liberal Democrats brought in the hostile environment. It was brutal and it was cynical and it has had devastating effects on the lives of people. I have had constituents, who have lived in Britain for 50 years, worked in the NHS, working in Local Government, working in schools, working in many places, suddenly find that they are no longer welcomed in Britain, threatened with deportation. The public outrage on that eventually forced a bit of retreat. But it’s not done yet, permanent settled status for many EU residents is another Windrush waiting to happen.
You are quite right. You have raised the question of people who have been here for a long time, who need to register to settle, I have come across that quite a lot. We need to have a different and more humanitarian approach to immigration, which does allow family reunion, but also as a country we must recognise, that our Health Service, our Education, our Science base, our industry, our factories, our businesses, depend on yo huge extent on people from other parts of the world. Immigration has to continue, just as much a British people going to work in other parts of the world has to continue.
Q. Will this election solve the issue of Brexit?
Jeremy Corbyn: The Prime Minister called this election or called this election on the basis of a Brexit election. Everybody imagines what the election is and what it is called for. It has already shown to me, on my travels around the country, Brexit is an issue but Health Service, and what happens to it after our country crashes out of the EU is an issue, especially what Johnson does with the Health Service, selling it off to US corporations just a big of an issue. As is housing, as is demand for schools, as is the level of poverty after 9 years of austerity. I think this election is much more, it’s about justice in our society.
Q. Does Labour support a second referendum?
Jeremy Corbyn: What we will do is negotiate with the European Union an option to leave the European Union, maintaining an effective trade relationship in order to protect jobs and industry. We put that alongside remain in a referendum within 6 months.
We need to bring the issue to a close, whether people voted to leave or remain, they did not vote to lose their jobs, or remove regulations on food standards, employment standards or environmental conditions.
Q. The restaurant trade, 1200 restaurants in the UK, is important to the Bangladeshi community, will Labour address the lack of visas given to businesses to bring chefs from abroad?
Jeremy Corbyn: I think we need to recognise the skills we need in this country, that includes Chefs coming in to work in the restaurant trade. When local restaurants in my community, normally run by people from Bangladesh, have real difficulty in recruiting staff to work, in particular, skilled chefs, yes, of course, we will look at that. I often supported individual applications.
Q. What is your favourite curry? When will you be visiting Brick Lane to taste authentic Bangladeshi curry dishes?
Jeremy Corbyn: I love a variety of food. My wife is from Mexico, and loves highly spiced chilies. My problem is I have difficulty digesting highly spiced food. So which makes for interesting approach to meals at home. So we tend to settle on a compromise on this. When we go out to eat in local Indian restaurant, I order a beautiful vegetarian Korma, I find Korma beautiful because you get coconut with it and rice, with mango juice, as I don’t drink alcohol.
One of my sons lives at the top end of Brick Lane, his probably been to every single one in Brick Lane. He invites me over and we often go there to eat. Yes, I would love to come. Thank you. Can I have korma when I come.
Q. What are your hobbies? Any tips to our readers in growing a good-sized Bottle Gourd/Calabash (khodu)?
Jeremy Corbyn: You dig up the ground around this time and fertilize it. Then in April you dig up the ground again and plant the seeds in a pot. Then in May, take them out of the pot and plant them in the ground.
Q. Have you visited Bangladesh? If not, do you intend to visit Bangladesh, in particular, Sylhet?
Jeremy Corbyn: I have been to Sylhet, and I have stayed in the government guest house in Sylhet.
Q. Islamophobia and racial attacks are on the rise. What solutions are you offering to communities suffering from such hate crime, discrimination and harassments?
Jeremy Corbyn: Islamophobia is a poison in our society, as is anti Semitism as is any forms of racism. We will review the prevent strategy so it concentrates on real danger on far right extremism, with the rise of the far right, not just in Britain but across Europe. There is no future for a society where racists are unbound, our future is where our young people understanding each other, understanding each others differences, seeing that as a plus not a minus.
Q. Last question, one of the criticism I have heard, the Labour Party at present cannot attract the centre or right-wing voters, some are saying that you are extreme left, what do you say about that?
Jeremy Corbyn: I want to lead a country where we eliminate the worst poverty, where every child gets a chance of education, where children going to school or college, don’t get massively into debt when they go to university. I want to live in a country where people have the chance to set up their own small businesses, that gives people decent pay and decent condition. I want to deal with the worst inequalities we have, we got a government that has given tax giveaways to the rich, the biggest corporations and biggest businesses, while most had a loss of income of nearly 25% over the last 10 years, because of austerity. It is about redressing that imbalance, giving people real hope. Many of your readers, will probably be quite seriously in debt, in middle age, because they are helping their kids through university or looking after their elderly parents, and they are probably paying a great deal of money if they are in the private rented sector, for somewhere to live. We need a fairer or more balanced society. We achieve that with government intervening in the economy, so we have more equality and opportunity. I am determined to that. I don’t think that is particularly extreme, I think that is sensible and human. That’s what I am.