16:50 GMT +306 December 2019
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    'Wealth Extractors' vs 'Coalition of Chaos': UK GE Campaign Gets Personal

    © AFP 2019 / John Thys, Paul Ellis
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    The UK's party leaders have hit the streets for the first full day of campaigning for the upcoming general election. Seeking to capture both the headlines and the imaginations of the electorate, the governing Tories and chief opposition - the Labour party - have issued pithy attack slogans, with both sides seeking to capture the public mood.

    Perhaps seeking to ride the wave of popularism, which has swept the world in the last 12 months, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has come out the gate with a barnstorming speech, railing against "the establishment," using similar rhetoric to a man he has publicly slammed in the past: US President Donald Trump.

    "A Labour government that isn't scared to take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country's wealth for themselves… It needs a government that will use that wealth to invest in people's lives in every community to build a better future for every person who lives here," Corbyn insisted in London, at his first major campaign speech.

    Mr. Corbyn hit out at "the wealth extractors," including the controversial former BHS owner Sir Philip Green, adding that he will never "doff his cap" to "powerful people."

    At the end of his speech, Corbyn — a man who has seemed worn down by months of unfriendly headlines in the media — looked buoyed.

    A broad smile spread across his face as his supporters rose for a standing ovation.

    However, the mood was soon broken by reporters.

    An ITV News journalist asked Mr. Corbyn why he was using populist rhetoric against "the elite," when some could easily accuse Corbyn of being "part of an Islington elite" himself.

    Labour supporters erupted in pantomime boos.

    The fact that Mr. Corbyn is currently suffering from abysmal personal poll ratings was also raised.

    A recent ICM poll found that only 13% believe Corbyn is doing a good job as party leader, in comparison with a 57% positive rating for Prime Minister Theresa May.

    Such a disparity could enable the Tories to make significant gains in parliament at the expense of Labour.

    Corbyn's response to his numbers was to portray himself as an underdog figure.

    "In 2015, almost two years ago, I was given odds of 200 to 1!" Corbyn reminded the crowd wryly, referring to his initial candidacy for the leadership of the Labour party, which he went on to win to the astonishment of almost all political pundits.

    This election is "not a foregone conclusion," Corbyn added.

    However, Labour has a steep hill to climb indeed, if he is to change the minds of the majority of the electorate.

    Key issues in this, like all elections, are the economy and defense.

    May's Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon on Thursday, April 20, described Jeremy Corbyn as feeble and gutless on defense, adding that the UK's adversaries would welcome a Labour victory.

    Prime Minister Theresa May also pointed to the upcoming Brexit negotiations, which he said would require a strong leader to secure the best deal possible for Britain.

    Speaking in a traditionally Labour marginal seat in Bolton on Wednesday, April 19, Mrs. May accused Labour of being at the center of "a coalition of chaos."

    It comes after Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon offered to enter into a "progressive alliance" with Labour and the Lib Dems to keep the Conservatives from power.

    Labour has hit back by saying that Mr. Corbyn will refuse such a coalition, perhaps remembering the specter of highly damaging ads from the 2015 election, while the Lib Dems' official Twitter account posted: 

    Conservatives painted former Labour leader Ed Miliband as being in the pocket of Scottish nationalists, which pundits say contributed to some English voters turning away from Labour at the polls

    The general election campaign has just started and with seven weeks to go, the tension between the parties will only rise.

    Although many of the polls indicate that the prime minister's gamble will likely pay off in her favor, if there's anything that the world of politics has learned in the last two years, it's that pollsters can be proved dramatically wrong, with shocking consequences.


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