Labour responds to Corbyn’s ‘difficult interview’
Labour is reeling from Jeremy Corbyn’s disastrous interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil on Tuesday night, Sebastian Payne writes.
Even the most passionate supporters of the opposition leader have acknowledged it did not go well and he performed poorly – particularly on the questions regarding anti-Semitism.
Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary and a close ally of Mr Corbyn, was sent out to the TV studios this morning to mop up some of the damage. In an interview with Sky News, he acknowledged it was a “difficult interview” but argued “Jeremy’s sincerity came across”.
Anybody watching that interview would come away with the conclusion that Jeremy is what he is – Jeremy is a firm opponent of racism, a firm opponent of anti-Semitism, a firm opponent of Islamophobia.
Mr Corbyn failed to apologise four times last night for the rise in anti-Semitism in the Labour party under his watch. Mr Burgon took a different approach, stating “we’re sorry for the hurt and pain that has been caused”.
He’s apologised on a number of occasions for the sorrow that’s been caused to the Jewish community…he’s always been clear that the situation in the Labour party hasn’t been right.
Despite Labour’s standing in the polls, Mr Burgon was confident about his party’s prospects.
“I think we can win and will win.”
Stocks are expecting a Tory win
One area of the UK share market is sending a clear signal that the Conservative party will gain a majority at next month’s general election, the FT’s Mike Mackenzie writes.
The FTSE 250 has extended its rise over its blue-chip rival, the FTSE 100. The more domestically flavoured 250 index had gained 19.2 per cent for the year as of yesterday’s close – versus the FTSE 100’s pedestrian 10 per cent – and sits at its best level for 15 months.
Longview notes the forces that should merit foreign flows lifting UK equities:
Economic activity should reaccelerate next year, aided by fiscal stimulus, rising house prices and robust growth in household cash flow. In addition, political uncertainty should ease and release pent up demand for business investment spending.
One notable challenge for equities is what kind of Brexit ultimately ensues, should the Conservatives form a government after the general election and pull the UK out of the EU at the end of January.
You can sign up to Mike’s daily analysis of what’s moving global markets here.
Conservatives have ‘no tolerance’ for racism
The Conservative party’s record on Islamophobia has been questioned this week, with the Muslim Council of Britain accusing the party of “denial, dismissal and deceit” over the issue.
Speaking on BBC Radio this morning, housing and communities secretary Robert Jenrick said his party takes “robust action” against individuals where necessary.
“We want to be a party that has no tolerance whatsoever of racism, prejudice or discrimination of any kind,” he said.
Mr Jenrick was unable to say how many incidents of Islamophobia the party knew of, but promised a “very thorough” investigation by the end of the year. The party has committed to an inquiry on all forms of discrimination.
Boris Johnson wrote in a newspaper column last year that Muslim women wearing burkas “look like letterboxes,” comments that have been under renewed scrutiny this week as race relations dominate the election campaign.
Labour and Lib Dems dwarf Tories in online spending battle
Jemima Kelly and David Blood report:
Labour and the Liberal Democrats are pouring hundreds of thousands of pounds into Facebook and Instagram ads, dwarfing the Conservatives’ spending as the opposition parties fight to close the gap on the UK’s governing party ahead of next month’s general election.
• Labour spent more than £165,000 on advertising across the two social media platforms in the week up to November 23, according to data published by Facebook.
• The Conservatives spent little more than a tenth of what Labour has spent in the most recent week for which there is data, at just over £17,500.
• The Lib Dems are currently the biggest spenders, with the party splashing out over £190,000 to take out ads in the same period, while the Brexit Party spent just under £100,000.
Jeremy Corbyn features in very few of Labour’s recent Facebook ads, perhaps underlining concerns over his unpopularity with the public. Instead the party has focused on driving home key messages and policy proposals, such as free prescriptions and “giv(ing) people the final say on Brexit”.
By contrast, pictures and videos of Conservative leader Boris Johnson feature prominently in the vast majority of the party’s recent ads.
You can read more details of the parties’ online spending habits in this full report.
This morning’s front pages make grim reading for Jeremy Corbyn.
The Labour leader’s decision to decline to apologise over allegations of anti-Semitism has allowed the row to lead the the news for a second straight day.
The Mail, never friendly to Mr Corbyn even on a good day, says he was “torn apart” in a “TV skewering” by the BBC’s Andrew Neil.
The Telegraph, Guardian and Times all also lead with the story, while the Daily Express wonders whether Mr Corbyn has “gifted the keys” of 10 Downing Street to Boris Johnson.
Moment of truth looms large for Jeremy Corbyn
The FT’s chief political correspondent Jim Pickard has been tracking the Labour party throughout the election.
He has written a piece this morning on how Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has become a central theme of this election campaign – driven by his ambivalence on Brexit, his hard left views and the party’s enduring anti-Semitism furore.
The key problem is Mr Corbyn’s dire personal ratings, while there are few signs that his party’s radical manifesto, which included sweeping nationalisation plans and a commitment to increase taxes by £83bn a year, can deliver a cut-through moment as it did in 2017.
You can read Jim’s full piece here.
Corbyn in focus
Good morning, welcome to the FT’s live coverage of Wednesday’s election campaigning in the UK.
Jeremy Corbyn is in focus today following a tough BBC TV interview in which he declined to apologise to Britain’s Jewish community over allegations of anti-Semitism in his party, and was forced to admit Labour would breach its longstanding promise not to raise taxes on workers earning under £80,000.
We’ll have the latest developments as they happen through the day, and do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.