New Statesman and Frontline Club present debate with Julian Assange

Assange will take part in his first adversarial debate since the release of the WikiLeaks cables.

This house believes whistleblowers make the world a safer place
Saturday 9 April 2011, 5pm, Kensington Town Hall

Join the Frontline Club and New Statesman for a provocative public debate featuring Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, speaking for the proposition in his first adversarial debate since the release of the WikiLeaks cables.

Over the past 12 months, official secrecy has been challenged like never before. Three of the biggest ever leaks of classified information – the Iraq War Logs, the Afghanistan War Logs and Cablegate – shook the world and prompted governments to reconsider how they share information.

Since the start of the Obama administration in 2009, the US government has brought charges against five defendants suspected of leaking classified information. Before Obama, the US government had only ever filed similar charges three times in 40 years.

For this very special event at Kensington Town Hall, the New Statesman and the Frontline Club host a challenging debate in which some of the most prominent public figures on secrecy and transparency issues will go head to head.

Amid the intensifying crackdown on whistleblowers, the debate will ask: are UK and US officials correct to argue that those who publish leaks threaten national security? Or do we need them to expose wrongdoing because, as transparency advocates argue, governments always abuse secrecy?

The event will feature an interactive section where the audience will be able to vote on the motion.

Chair: Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman.

Other panellists to be confirmed imminently.

All tickets are now sold out. We are doing our best to try and offer more tickets to the public. If you register for the waiting list for this event we will be able to get in touch as soon as possible with further announcements and let you know if it will be possible to purchase further tickets. Register for the waiting list here.

For any other inquiries contact events@frontlineclub.com – or call 020 7479 8940

For media and press inquiries please contact events@newstatesman.co.uk – or call 020 7936 6456

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Getty
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Jeremy Corbyn: “wholesale” EU immigration has destroyed conditions for British workers

The Labour leader has told Andrew Marr that his party wants to leave the single market.

Mass immigration from the European Union has been used to "destroy" the conditions of British workers, Jeremy Corbyn said today. 

The Labour leader was pressed on his party's attitude to immigration on the Andrew Marr programme. He reiterated his belief that Britain should leave the Single Market, claiming that "the single market is dependent on membership of the EU . . . the two things are inextricably linked."

Corbyn said that Labour would argue for "tarriff-free trade access" instead. However, other countries which enjoy this kind of deal, such as Norway, do so by accepting the "four freedoms" of the single market, which include freedom of movement for people. Labour MP Chuka Umunna has led a parliamentary attempt to keep Britain in the single market, arguing that 66 per cent of Labour members want to stay. The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said that "Labour's failure to stand up for common sense on single market will make them as culpable as Tories for Brexit disaster".

Laying out the case for leaving the single market, Corbyn used language we have rarely heard from him - blaming immigration for harming the lives of British workers.

The Labour leader said that after leaving the EU, there would still be European workers in Britain and vice versa. He added: "What there wouldn't be is the wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry." 

Corbyn said he would prevent agencies from advertising jobs in central Europe - asking them to "advertise in the locality first". This idea draws on the "Preston model" adopted by that local authority, of trying to prioritise local suppliers for public sector contracts. The rules of the EU prevent this approach, seeing it as discrimination. 

In the future, foreign workers would "come here on the basis of the jobs available and their skill sets to go with it. What we wouldn't allow is this practice by agencies, who are quite disgraceful they way they do it - recruit a workforce, low paid - and bring them here in order to dismiss an existing workforce in the construction industry, then pay them low wages. It's appalling. And the only people who benefit are the companies."

Corbyn also said that a government led by him "would guarantee the right of EU nationals to remain here, including a right of family reunion" and would hope for a reciprocal arrangement from the EU for British citizens abroad. 

Matt Holehouse, the UK/EU correspondent for MLex, said Corbyn's phrasing was "Ukippy". 

Asked by Andrew Marr if he had sympathy with Eurosceptics - having voted against previous EU treaties such as Maastricht - Corbyn clarified his stance on the EU. He was against a "deregulated free market across Europe", he said, but supported the "social" aspects of the EU, such as workers' rights. However, he did not like its opposition to state subsidy of industry.

On student fees, Corbyn was asked "What did you mean by 'I will deal with it'?". He said "recognised" that graduates faced a huge burden from paying off their fees but did not make a manifesto commitment to forgive the debt from previous years. However, Labour would abolish student debt from the time it was elected. Had it won the 2017 election, students in the 2017/18 intake would not pay fees (or these would be refunded). 

The interview also covered the BBC gender pay gap. Corbyn said that Labour would look at a gender pay audit in every company, and a pay ratio - no one could receive more than 20 times the salary of the lowest paid employee. "The BBC needs to look at itself . . . the pay gap is astronomical," he added. 

He added that he did not think it was "sustainable" for the government to give the DUP £1.5bn and was looking forward to another election.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.