UK Politics

Seven things from Jeremy Corbyn's Mumsnet chat

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Alice Greenfield/Mumsnet

With less than a week left in Labour's leadership contest, Jeremy Corbyn has faced Mumsnet users for a live webchat. Here are some of his key answers:

'Totally anti-sugar'

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In time-honoured Mumsnet tradition, he chose a favourite biscuit, albeit reluctantly.

"I'm totally anti-sugar on health grounds, so eat very few biscuits, but if forced to accept one, it's always a pleasure to have a shortbread."

Not everyone was impressed. "That's the most miserable response to the biscuit question I've ever read," wrote one user, GloGirl.

Others pointed to his reported hobby of making jam, asking how this fitted with his anti-sugar stance.

But another Mumsnet user said his answer "showed true integrity".

'I have changed the debate' on immigration

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Mumsnet user quail asked how he would change the "narrative" and promote a more positive message on immigration.

Mr Corbyn said society had "benefitted enormously" from migration, adding: "I think I have changed the debate. The first thing I did after my election as leader was to speak at a rally welcoming refugees as victims of war and oppression, and to counter the rise in abuse and hate crime, I have attended a number of events bringing all faiths and communities together."

Media coverage

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"I am naturally very patient," Mr Corbyn said when asked about criticism his leadership has received in the media. He went on: "I always try to see something good in all the people I am dealing with. And whilst the mainstream media have been fairly hostile it's not my experience when travelling around the country and indeed in my office we have a wall of postcards from people of all ages from all parts of the country giving positive supportive opinions and wishing us well."

Reading Ulysses on the train

He has just re-read Things Fall Apart, which is seen as Africa's first great post-colonial novel. It is set in the 1890s in what is now Nigeria. But the one he never tires of reading is James Joyce's Ulysses "on the grounds that it's very hard to understand the first time, and doesn't get much easier on the third or fourth reading of it".

"I first read it as my companion on a complicated series of trains travelling from London to Marrakech."

Selections for Labour candidates

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As he has previously stated, Mr Corbyn said every constituency will have to choose a new candidate for the 2020 general election if boundary changes have been introduced. A "trigger ballot" will be held to decide whether local members want to "widen the choice", he said. Some MPs who have clashed with the leader fear Corbyn-supporting local members will force them out.

His views on prostitution

Mr Corbyn's support for the decriminalisation of prostitution attracted a number of questions, many of them hostile.

"Decriminalisation would send a message for all of society that sex and women's bodies are something to be sold," wrote one Mumsnet poster, called Apulina.

In response Mr Corbyn said people had "passionately-held views" on the subject, saying his stance was "motivated by not wanting those engaged in prostitution to become criminals".

Post-Brexit Britain

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Mr Corbyn suggested the UK could adopt a similar model to Norway - which has full access to the EU single market but also accepts the free movement of people. He said Labour would be "demanding market access to Europe" as well as protection of workers' rights. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is holding meetings exploring the Norwegian model this week, he said.

In other answers, he denied living in an "echo chamber" where he only heard the voices of his supporters, saying he had spoken to many Labour MPs over the course of the leadership campaign, and asked whether a party should ditch its principles to win power, he replied: "It's not an either/or, it's the principles of a party of justice and equality that have to be centre stage in order to develop policies that gain popular support to put it into office."

This was the second Mumsnet grilling for Mr Corbyn, who also featured during last year's leadership contest, which he won. His rival this time around, Owen Smith, took part last month, attacking Mr Corbyn's performance at PMQs and campaigning during the EU referendum, and revealing his fondness for Garibaldi biscuits.

Labour's new leader will be announced at a special conference on 24 September. Read more about the contest here