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Jeremy Corbyn rejects claims Labour will split if he wins leadership race

Published 24/08/2015

Jeremy Corbyn said he would look at the gap in every organisation between the highest and lowest levels of pay
Jeremy Corbyn said he would look at the gap in every organisation between the highest and lowest levels of pay

Leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has rejected claims the party would split if he is elected to Labour's top job as he set out plans to take on bankers, media moguls and the corporate world.

Rupert Murdoch's empire would be broken up to dilute his media influence while banks must wake up to Britain's "gross inequalities", the left-winger told the Financial Times.

Mr Corbyn also warned the corporate world he is going after high pay levels.

"I do think the salary levels and the bonus levels again have got to be looked at," he told the newspaper.

"I am looking at the gap in every organisation between highest and lowest levels of pay."

He said: " We need a media that is not controlled by a very small number of very big interests . . . [Mr Murdoch] should understand that we're very serious about diversity of media ownership and I hope he will understand that."

Mr Corbyn's dramatic transformation from rank outsider to favourite in the race against Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall for the leadership has sent shockwaves through Labour and prompted fears it would force the party to split.

But the backbencher told the FT: "I don't think there is any appetite for people to walk away from [the party].

"I appreciate there are only a relatively small number [of MPs] who actually willingly nominated me," he said.

"The number of MPs making 'noises off' at the moment is actually quite small," he added. "A lot of MPs are looking to see what happens and what role they can fulfil."

The contest has been mired in controversy after new rules made it easier for people to sign up to vote, inadvertently paving the way for political opponents to influence the outcome.

Senior party figures are expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss fear about significant numbers of infiltrators bypassing party security checks.

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn's economic adviser, Richard Murphy, suggested a government led by the Labour MP would sack the Bank of England governor if they refused to implement his plan for "people's quantitative easing".

Under the proposal, Mr Corbyn would create a national investment bank to fund infrastructure projects which would issue debt to be bought by the Bank of England - effectively meaning the Bank would fund government spending on housing, energy, transport and other projects.

Mr Murphy said current governor Mark Carney has said it would be possible and so the Government should use the cheap money available from the Bank to do it.

Asked if Mr Corbyn would sack a Bank governor who refused to carry out the plans, Mr Murphy told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Bank of England governors are responsible to democratically elected politicians. If we have governors who think they are over and above the rule of democratically elected politicians, then I'm afraid to say, yes they should be on the next plane."

"There is no such thing as Bank of England independence, there never has been, it's a fiasco put together, a facade created to appease people to put forward a presentation of something that doesn't exist."

Mr Murphy also suggested that the Bank takes its cues on setting interest rates from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, which he claimed was in fact influenced by the Chancellor because it is based in the Treasury.

He said: "The Office for Budget Responsibility has issued a forecast which says at the end of this year it is expecting interest rates to rise.

"If you were sitting on the Monetary Policy Committee, might you take that as some steer that the Chancellor would be happy if that's what you did?"

Mr Corbyn has called for mental health education to be taught in all British schools

Setting out his plans to deal with Britain's mental health "crisis", the Islington North MP called for a national curriculum course on life skills, emotional intelligence and parenting.

Mr Corbyn said he would increase spending on mental health and increase the numbers of professionals working in the area - with a focus in particular on children, women and ethnic minority communities.

He said: "Britain has a mental health crisis, and this government is making it worse. The Tory rhetoric about improving mental health provision has been accompanied by cuts in funding, services and support for people with mental health needs.

"Everyone knows someone who is suffering or has suffered from mental illness. The economic costs of mental illness are huge, and the personal costs are incalculable.

"I am committed to a holistic approach that sees emotional well-being as fundamentally connected with a society less atomised and individualistic and more socially connected, more caring, more inclusive and more equal."

"We need a Labour government that will bring this negative narrative on mental health to an end."

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