Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled major campaign pledges on transport this morning.
Calling the UK the “rail rip-off capital of Europe”, the leader has restated his promise to renationalise rail services, as well as taking bus services out of the hands of private companies and placing them under local government control – a move he says would save £500m of public money.
The proposal has had the backing of Unite’s transport officer, Bobby Morton, who has written in favour of Corbyn’s vision for LabourList today.
Rival Owen Smith has also adopted a staunch defence of public services. The challenger has pledged to invest £60bn into the NHS to combat the Tories’ privatisation agenda. The plan, to be funded by wealth taxes, would see the UK head back to the European average of spending on healthcare according to the Pontypridd MP.
Both candidates are playing to the core issues party members support: the Tories’ continued attack on public services has provoked anger among the left and Labour members are likely to look for a leader who could reverse their cuts.
While both men are appealing the Labour grassroots, Corbyn appears to be more successful in doing so. The Islington MP has managed to drum up a huge majority of Constituency Labour Party support.* The incumbent leader has won a whopping 285 nominations from local parties, giving another confirmation of his status as the frontrunner in the contest.
Elsewhere, Kezia Dugdale has hit back at suggestions that Scottish Labour could cut a deal with the SNP. Scottish Labour’s ailing fortunes have led to proposals of a progressive coalition of left-of-centre parties in order to win a majority of MPs in Westminster. But Dugdale’s message is clear: “Labour is a socialist party. The SNP most certainly aren’t.”
* Supporting nominations closed in the leadership contest today, with 285 CLPs giving their support to Corbyn, and 53 going to Owen Smith. Corbyn also won the support of eight trade unions, compared to four for Smith. These nominations will not affect the final result by themselves, but in the past have been a useful guide to determining the rough levels of support for candidates.
Corbyn’s camp point out that his support among CLPs has in fact grown since last year’s contest, when 152 local parties chose to nominate him. Despite 55 fewer CLPs making a nomination this time around, he won over 100 more party endorsements.
His campaign welcomed the news, with a spokesperson saying: “Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate who can draw on support from Labour members right across our country. These results further suggest that Labour members strongly support Jeremy Corbyn in his bid to remain Labour leader.”
“Our campaign will continue to make the positive case for democracy in our party and for Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to rebuild and transform Britain so that no-one and nowhere is left behind.”
However, some Smith supporters argue that CLP meetings have comparatively low turnout for the number of members in each seat, with a belief that those actively attending meetings will be more likely to support Corbyn than other members. It is believed that Corbyn received around 15,000 votes from CLP nomination meetings, while over 7,500 voted for Smith.
However, if you include ballots carried out by Unison and GMB to determine their endorsements, the tally becomes a much closer 43,000 for Corbyn and 41,000 for Smith – with the pro-Smith GMB ballot including more voters than any other.