August 23, 2015 / 3:57 PM / 4 years ago

Economists say Labour favourite Corbyn's policies 'not extreme'

Labour Party leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn talks to a crowd of supporters unable to enter an election campaigning event at Ealing in west London, Britain August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 40 economists on Sunday backed Labour lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, boosting the leftwinger’s campaign to lead Britain’s opposition party, after opponents said his “extreme” views would make it unelectable.

Corbyn’s “anti-austerity” polices include renationalising Britain’s privatised industries, such as railways and utilities.

The economists, who include David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s rate-setting monetary policy committee, said Corbyn’s position was not extreme.

“His opposition to austerity is actually mainstream economics, even backed by the conservative IMF,” they wrote in a letter to the Observer newspaper.

The “extreme” label should be applied to the Conservative government, whose attempt to produce a balanced budget primarily through cuts to public spending failed in the last parliament, they said.

Corbyn’s agent said he would reserve the right to renationalise public assets such as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) if they were sold off at reduced prices by the Conservative government, “with either no compensation or with any undervaluation deducted from any compensation”, the Observer said.

Labour Party grandees, including former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, have lined up to denounce Corbyn, an admirer of Karl Marx who polls show is most likely to beat his three opponents in the leadership contest.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Andrew Roche

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