POLITICS
29/09/2015 07:22 BST | Updated 29/09/2015 10:59 BST

Jeremy Corbyn Offers New Parental Rights To Self-Employed In Patriotic Speech To Labour Conference

Jeremy Corbyn will seek to defy his critics today with a patriotic speech that marries new help for small businesses with a plea for a “kinder politics”.

In his first conference address as Labour leader, he will unveil plans to extend maternity, paternity and sick pay to the army of self-employed under a Corbyn government.

With more than one in seven Brits working for themselves, Mr Corbyn will offer a review that counters Tory tax credit cuts with statutory new rights for millions.

The policy announcement, one of the few specifics expected in the speech in Brighton, will be accompanied by a deliberate attempt to reassure voters that ‘I love this country’ and its ‘fair play’ and ‘solidarity’ for those in need.

Promising to fight the corner of the “wealth creators who are the workers as well”, he will outline his maternity rights package by declaring that “it’s no surprise nine out of 10 self-employed people don’t think the welfare system is fair to them.”

After weeks of being accused of being unpatriotic over his refusal to sing the national anthem and commitment to unilateral disarmament, Mr Corbyn will make a virtue of his own softly-spoken nature by emphasising his ‘kinder’ approach to politics.

“Fair play for all, solidarity and not walking by on the other side of the street when people are in trouble,” he will say.

“Respect for other's point of view. It is this sense of fair play, these shared majority British values, that are the fundamental reason why I love this country and its people.

“These values are what I was elected on: a kinder politics and a more caring society. “

The Labour leader will add that caring for the underdog and “a belief in coming together to achieve more than we can on our own” are “Labour values and our country's values”.

“We are going to put these values back into politics.

“It’s because I am driven by these British majority values, because I love this country, that I want to rid it of injustice, to make it fairer, more decent, more equal.

“And I want all of our citizens to benefit from prosperity and success.”

But Mr Corbyn will also stress his huge mandate from the 59% of Labour members who voted for him and say that his ‘new politics’ means his party having more disagreements in public and an end to Tony Blair-style message-discipline.

"I am not imposing leadership lines. I don't believe anyone has a monopoly on wisdom - we all have ideas and a vision of how things can be better.

“I want open debate, I will listen to everyone, I firmly believe leadership is listening. Real debate, not message discipline. Straight talking. Honest.”

Labour MPs may be disappointed that on a range of issues, Mr Corbyn won’t announce timetables for policy reviews on big issues like the EU, defence or welfare and immigration.

But he will use the case of the self-employed to stress his new approach, warning that the Toreis are going to ‘clobber them again harder as they bring in universal credit”.

Statutory maternity pay is paid for 39 weeks. It’s 90 per cent of a mother’s average earnings for the first six weeks and then a maximum of £139.58 for the next 33 weeks.

Statutory paternity pay is a maximum of £139.58 a week for up to two weeks.

“I want our policy review to tackle this in a really serious way and consider opening up statutory maternity and paternity pay to the self-employed, so all newborn children can get the same level of care from their parents,” he will say.

“Labour created the welfare state as an expression of a caring society but all too often that safety net is not there for self-employed people. It must be.

“They earn less than other workers. – on average just £11,000, half that of an average employee – and their incomes have been hit hardest by the five years of Tory economic failure.

“So what are the Tories doing to help the self-employed, the entrepreneurs they claim to represent? They’re clobbering them with the tax credit cuts.”