Leadership Candidates in dialogue with COTL/Jeremy Corbyn

Christians on the Left put the following questions to the Leadership and Deputy Leadership candidates. 

  • What role do the candidates see churches and people of other faiths
    playing in the future of the Labour Party?
  • In line with our campaign would you support full legal separation of
    ‘casino’ investment banking and retail banking?

We appreciate the candidates taking the time to respond and their responses are uploaded in the order we have received them. 

Jeremy Corbyn (Leadership candidate) @jeremycorbyn

I believe faith communities are essential allies in the struggle for a better Britain. I want to create a society embedded in values of fairness and equality, empathy and solidarity. I want a society that better enables us all to realise the innate goodness
inherent in our nature. I know this aspiration is shared as deeply within faith communities. Last year 13 million of our fellow citizens were living in poverty. With the worst of Tory austerity yet to come, that figure is only set to rise.

I know that up and down the country there are people of all faiths and none, on the front line of welfare reform, bearing witness to the pain this government is inflicting on the some of our poorest communities. I want to see more faith leaders publicly challenge this injustice. In speaking out last year against the impact of welfare cuts, the twenty-six Church of England Bishops were standing up for those abandoned by the politicians who should be protecting them. We need unity to stop the damage this government is wrecking and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with all faith leaders to that end. I believe it is wrong that the poorest are being made to pay for an economic crisis that is the responsibility of the richest.

The 'Truth and Lies about Poverty' report produced by the Baptist Union, Methodist Church, Church of Scotland and United Reformed Church was an excellent contribution towards challenging the myth that poverty primarily stems from laziness or poor personal choices. I believe it is wrong too that the language of ‘benefit scroungers’ which accompanies austerity is breeding intolerance and indifference to the suffering of others.  It is an outrage that over 2,300 people have died after their Work Capability Assessment told them they should start looking for work.  When we permit the bullying of the poor and immigrants, it encourages bullies everywhere. A new study claims our children are among them the unhappiest in the world, with widespread bullying a major culprit. Should we be surprised?

Christians on the Left call on us all to ‘love the poor, defend the widow, the refugee and the orphan and stand against injustice - large or small’.  These values are at the heart of the Labour party and ones I share a deep commitment to.  I want to help create a society that strives to leave no one behind, society more socially conscious and responsible, not one in thrall to rampant materialism and selfish individualism. I look forward to working with Christians on the Left, and other faith communities, towards that end.

Your second question asks whether I support full legal separation of ‘casino’ investment banking and retail banking.

I certainly do.

We have learnt the hard way that bankers have short memories. When things are going well, money is cheap and confidence is high, bankers invariably get overconfident and underestimate the risks they face.  It was exactly this recklessness that resulted in banks increasing their lending to 30, 40 or more times their available reserves prior to the 2008, with the disastrous consequences we all too familiar with.  When these issues were examined by the Independent Commission on Banking in 2011 it recommended a ‘firewall’ between bank’s investment and retail sections.  I share the concerns of those, like Christians on the Left, who feel that these measures are too easily circumvented and more rigorous banking reform is required.

The full legal separation between ‘casino’ and retail banking is an important part of a bigger package of banking reform we need to ensure that our economy is never again left vulnerable to actions of the greedy and reckless.

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