UK

Jeremy Corbyn Criticises 'Extractive' Banks And Calls For 'New Settlement' With Corporations

03/03/2016 08:10 GMT | Updated 03/03/2016 13:59 GMT

Jeremy Corbyn has accused City bankers of treating ordinary workers like a "cash cow" as he called for more state investment and a new settlement with London's financial corporations.

In a speech to business bosses, the Labour leader also blamed his predecessors of creating the conditions for the 2007 and 2008 banking collapse by "outsourcing economic policy to the City of London".

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He demanded fundamental reforms to ensure big banks "serve the economy not just themselves" and more public-backed spending on infrastructure projects and science.

corbyn

Corbyn speaking today

“What Labour now stands for is far more than stopping the damage being done by this Government and its threat to our long-term economic future,” Corbyn told the British Chambers of Commerce conference in London.

“We want to see a break with the failed economic orthodoxy that has gripped the establishment in this country for a generation.

"We will put public investment in science, technology and the green industries of the future front and centre stage. Only by driving up the rate of investment will we achieve the higher productivity we need for rising living standards for all.

The Labour leader also said he would push for a "genuinely mixed economy" based on what he called a "new settlement with the corporate sector".

canary wharf banks

Big banks came under fire

“Only an economy that is run for the wealth creators - the technicians, entrepreneurs, designers, shopfloor workers, and the self-employed – and puts them in the driving seat ... is going to deliver prosperity for all," he said.

Chancellor George Osborne came under fire too, with Corbyn accusing him of believing that the solution to the UK's problems is "to cut back government".

“It wasn’t government that was the problem in 2007 and 2008, when the banking sector nearly drove the entire economy to the point of collapse," he said.

“The New Labour approach was to opt for ‘light touch regulation’ of finance – and then sit back and collect the tax revenues.

george osborne

Osborne is accused of 'cutting back government'

"But you cannot base a decent social policy on an unsustainable economic policy. And we cannot outsource economic policy to the City of London. That has not served our economy well, and it has not served business well.

“The banking sector has to be reformed. Finance must support the economy, not be an end in itself, and certainly not an extractive industry that looks at consumers, entrepreneurs and small businesses as a cash cow...

“We need to reform the major banks so that they serve the economy not just themselves. That includes using the public stakes in banks such as RBS to drive lending and investment in infrastructure, rebuilding supply chains and the industries of the future."

Corbyn went on to reiterate his commitment to investing in superfast broadband - saying that Chile, Estonia and Iceland currently have higher percentages of premises on the fibre-optic network.

“The evidence is clear that only the public sector and public investment can guarantee the super-fast broadband network in every part of Britain the essential low-cost connections people and businesses need in a 21st century economy," he will say.

“As it is, government foot-dragging and ideological dithering is holding digital Britain back.”