LONDON – “The relaunch is not an event,” one aide to Jeremy Corbyn told me this week. “It’s a whole new approach.”
This morning we saw the first signs of that new approach as Corbyn sat on the “Good Morning Britain” sofa alongside Piers Morgan, Susanna Reid and a cushion with Corbyn’s face on it.
Over the course of an extensive interview, the normally media-shy Labour leader attacked British companies for using immigrant workers to “destroy existing workers’ pay and conditions,” defended Labour’s recent electoral performances and compared himself to US President-elect Donald Trump, who he says “mobilised a lot of people who were naffed off.”
The interview, which also saw a relaxed-looking Labour leader joke with Morgan about football and Alastair Campbell, was the start of what his aides describe as his new “combative” approach.
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) January 10, 2017
“He’s going to be doing a lot more broadcast media,” one senior adviser told me.
“It’s about projecting more self-confidence and being a lot clearer about calling out the injustices and failures of the political and economic establishment.”
It’s about projecting more self-confidence and being a lot clearer
The strategy, which has been designed by his team to capitalise on the wave of anti-establishment sentiment spreading across the western world, will involve Corbyn speaking directly to the public through television appearances and a more Trump-style social media strategy.
The media strategy coincides with a shift in policy too, particularly with regards to immigration.
In a speech later today Corbyn will announce that Labour is no longer “wedded to free movement as a point of principle”. Until now, the Labour leader has put himself firmly on the side of shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who believes that Labour should stick to its long-held support for free movement.
However, this morning Corbyn made the anti-capitalist case against mass-migration, saying that companies were “making a fortune” off of bringing in migrant workers and using them to “destroy” the pay and conditions of British workers.
British companies bring in immigrant workers "to destroy existing worker's pay and conditions" says Jeremy Corbyn.
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) January 10, 2017
Corbyn plans to be bolder in other areas too, In another interview on the “Today” programme this morning, Corbyn also backed a new law restricting the maximum level of executive pay and said he would stand on the picket line with striking rail workers.
I don’t agree with anti-establishment politics
This new combative approach is one that some within Labour have expected him to make for some time.
“I don’t agree with anti-establishment politics,” one centrist Labour MP told me recently.
“It’s not my sort of politics but I can see that’s there’s an opportunity there and I’ve been really surprised that so far he hasn’t taken it.”
Despite seeking to learn the lessons from the successes of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Corbyn’s team are wary of him being labeled a “populist.”
“I don’t think that is a fair characterisation,” one Corbyn aide told me.
This is about taking on real injustices with radical solutions
“This is about taking on real injustices with radical solutions.”
Corbyn’s team are determined that he will be much more visible in future, after months in which he has been accused of going into virtual hiding.
However,with Corbyn’s personal ratings at historic lows, some in the party believe that putting him in front of the cameras more often could actually backfire.
As one former shadow minister told me last night when asked about the plans: “What could possibly go wrong?”
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