JEREMY Corbyn has insisted the June 8 General Election is about the “Establishment versus the people” as he attacked tax-dodging fat cats and pledged to put wealth back in the hands of ordinary workers.
But shortly after making his first speech of the campaign he came under fire from Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, who branded him gutless and feeble, and suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin would welcome a Labour victory.
The Labour leader, speaking at the administrative headquarters of the Church of England near Westminster Abbey, derided what he called was the “rigged system,” which enabled the rich and powerful to extract wealth from the nation.
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He boasted about how he did not play by the rules set out by the Establishment and “their followers in the media”.
"It is these rules that have allowed a cosy cartel to rig the system in favour of a few powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations. It is a rigged system set up by the wealth extractors, for the wealth extractors. But things can, and they will, change," declared Mr Corbyn.
He denounced the "morally bankrupt" Conservative Party, which was determined to maintain the elitist system while cutting public services and blaming migrants and the unemployed for the woes of the economy.
“It is the rigged economy the Tories are protecting that Labour is committed to challenging; we will not let the elite extract wealth from the pockets of ordinary working people any longer," insisted the Labour leader.
Mr Corbyn said the likes of business tycoons Sir Philip Green and Mike Ashley were monopolising money that should be shared by everyone.
"We will no longer allow those at the top to leech off of those who bust their guts on zero hours contracts or those forced to make sacrifices to pay their mortgage or their rent.
"Instead of the country's wealth being hidden in tax havens, we will put it in the hands of the people of Britain, as they are the ones who earned it," he said.
The speech came as a poll gave Theresa May’s Tories an even larger lead: 24 points.
But the Labour leader received a rousing reception from loyal supporters when he told them: “Much of the media and Establishment are saying that this election is a foregone conclusion. They think there are rules in politics, which if you don’t follow by doffing your cap to powerful people, accepting that things can’t really change, then you can’t win.
“But of course, they do not want us to win. Because when we win it is the people, not the powerful, who win,” declared Mr Corbyn.
He made clear Labour's manifesto would be "fully costed and will be all accounted for and paid for".
Meantime, Sir Michael, speaking in Estonia, where he took part in a ceremony to mark the deployment of 800 British troops as part of a Nato operation to deter Russian interference in the Baltic states, laid into Mr Corbyn on the issue of defence.
“Russia will be watching Labour’s feebleness that Jeremy Corbyn has not supported this deployment. He has questioned it…
“He has not made clear how they would finance our two per cent commitment to Nato and at every point he has voted against a stronger defence, including the renewal of Trident last July. Russia will be watching that, will have noted that feebleness and will be watching it throughout this campaign.”
Asked if Mr Putin would want Mr Corbyn to win, the Scot said: “Putin would certainly welcome feebler British defence…Any undermining of our deterrent or our commitment to two per cent defence spending or any gutlessness in response to Russian aggression would certainly be welcome in Moscow.”
Sir Michael also criticised First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, saying: “She was ready to work with Labour to frustrate a Conservative government, which is again extremely worrying for defence that you might see that kind of coalition – ‘coalition of chaos’ the Prime Minister called it – but one that might damage our defence because both Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon would dismantle our deterrent and would weaken our defences.”
Elsewhere, Mr Corbyn’s brother, Piers, accused the BBC of being “evil” and that they criticised the Labour leader at every opportunity.
“The BBC have never been so biased against any party leader as now. That is because Jeremy stands for something different. Jeremy Corby stands against the global elitist Establishment and the BBC past and present has been [part of that].”
A spokesman for the corporation replied: “As everyone knows, we are an impartial and independent broadcaster."