Far From Extreme, Corbyn's Anti-Austerity Stance Is 'Mainstream Economics'

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Far From Extreme, Corbyn's Anti-Austerity Stance Is 'Mainstream Economics'

"Despite the barrage of media coverage to the contrary, it is the current government's policy and its objectives which are extreme," economists write

Jeremy Corbyn at a campaign rally earlier this month. (Photo: Reuters)

Even as the mainstream media and members of his own party seek to paint Labour leader hopeful Jeremy Corbyn as lacking credibility on economic policy, a group of more than 40 leading economists put pen to paper this weekend, seeking to counter that narrative by publicly throwing their weight behind key planks of his anti-austerity platform.

"His opposition to austerity is actually mainstream economics," the economists wrote in an open letter published Sunday. "Despite the barrage of media coverage to the contrary, it is the current government's policy and its objectives which are extreme."

The letter clarifies that its signatories "are not all supporters of Jeremy Corbyn," who is currently the frontrunner in the leadership contest according to national polls.

"But we hope to clarify just where the 'extremism' lies in the current economic debate," they continued, blasting harsh spending cuts and privatization embraced by current Labour leaders.

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Meanwhile, Corbyn detailed his economic strategy in the Observer on Sunday, criticizing "an absentee government" that has produced "yawning inequality" in the UK.

"Parliament can feel like living in a time warp at the best of times," he wrote, "but this government is not just replaying 2010, but taking us back to 1979: ideologically committed to rolling back the state, attacking workers' rights and trade union protection, selling off public assets and extending the sell-off to social housing."

Corbyn went on to highlight the importance of a national investment bank, a national education service that provides for universal free childcare and ongoing skills training, and stronger trade unions.

"Our opposition cannot be limited to the parliamentary chambers and TV studios of Westminster," he wrote. "Labour is best when it is a movement, and that movement has swelled to an enthusiastic 600,000 who will decide this leadership election. Once that is over, we face a bigger task: to force this government to abandon its free-market dogma and become the strategic state our society needs."

The Independent reported Monday that Corbyn said the Labour party should set up a fund to help low-income people become members of Parliament. "If the party is to win back the five million predominantly working-class voters lost since 1997, then we must reflect those we seek to represent," the candidate reportedly argued. "It is not enough to be for working people—we have to be of working people as well."

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