Jeremy Corbyn easily wins UK Labour Party leadership


TThe progressive politician, who had been a mere backbencher a few months ago and a total dark horse who had been given 500-1 odds of success, won easily with 59.5% of the vote, signaling an end to the Tory-lite Blairite dominance of the party that had prevailed for so long. It was a decisive defeat for the odious Tony Blair who had campaigned hard against Corbyn.

The headline chosen by the Los Angeles Times reveals the conservative dominance of he media in the US. It said, “Divisive far-left lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn wins U.K.’s Labor Party election”. The Reuters report referred to him as a ‘Marx admirer’.

Jeremy Corbyn

Divisive? Far left? Marx-admirer? Those are code words to suggest that Corbyn is outside the allowed spectrum of establishment thought and thus is a not a ‘safe’ candidate for the oligarchy. In his acceptance speech, Corbyn said:

“Let us be a force for change in the world, a force for humanity in the world, a force for peace in the world,” he said during his acceptance speech. “And a force that recognizes we cannot go on like this with grotesque levels of global inequality, grotesque threats to our environment all ’round the world, without the rich and powerful governments stepping up to the plate to make sure our world becomes safer and better.”

Let’s look at what this so-called ‘divisive’ figure is like and stands for.

He is now 66, a vegetarian who loves to cycle and often appears somewhat disheveled, rarely wearing a tie.

He favors Britain’s withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, nuclear disarmament and renationalization of the country’s energy sector.

Perhaps the most unexpected factor in Corbyn’s victory was that he captured the imagination of young people across the country, many younger than 30.

He said one of his first acts as leader would be to head to a “solidarity with refugees” rally in central London.

“I’m going to go to the demonstration this afternoon to show support for the way refugees must be treated, and should be treated, in this country,” he said.

At the demonstration is support of refugees that he attended immediately after the election, he sang a socialist anthem and spoke to rousing cheers.

Mr Corbyn says refugees and their children are “ambitious” and the “waste of human resources” through the lack of human rights cannot continue. He says the government must recognise its obligations in law but “above all open your hearts, and open your minds, and open your attitudes to supporting people…together in humanity.”
The speech has ended to massive cheers from the vast crowd.

He adds: “We have to have a thought about why people end up in desperate situations like this.”Corbyn said that during his many years in Parliament he has seen many decisions made ordering the military to “invade here, bomb that” but that conflict does not end when the UK pulls out.
”Surely our objective ought to be to find peaceful solutions to the problems of this world,” he added.

The Guardian provided an analysis of how he came out of nowhere to win and before the election, Jessica Elgot wrote a profile which shows a simple man who has consistently held to his principles in a long career.

Jeremy Corbyn, a soft-spoken leftwing lawmaker, is no career politician, nor a naive idealist. The 66-year-old socialist MP for London’s Islington North has been in parliament for 32 years, during which time he has voted against his own party leadership more than 500 times and had the lowest expenses of any MP.

But in July, the UK’s biggest trade unions backed him as a candidate, but the clamour for Corbynism from the rank-and-file became a roar later that month after the interim Labour leader, Harriet Harman, decided not to oppose the Conservatives’ budget and its new round of spending cuts.

Corbyn broke ranks – the only leadership candidate to oppose Harman and vote against the budget which he called “brutal and anti-young, and anti the poorest in Britain”. Burnham, then viewed as his main rival, said he had abstained in order not to split the party. But Corbyn won wide acclaim for his decision to put principle first.

Corbyn’s vision is for Labour to campaign for a radical upheaval of the economic system, not be a softer “Tory-lite” party which also commits to spending cuts. His economic commitments are popular with the young, he has promised to bring the railways into public ownership and abolish university tuition fees. He champions “People’s Quantitive Easing”, which would allow the Bank of England to print money for housing projects, energy, infrastructure and digital development.

By early August, local town halls soon became too small to cope with the surge of supporters hoping to hear Corbyn speak, including one memorable moment where the grey-bearded man in the knitted fawn-coloured jumper climbed on to a fire engine to speak to jubilant north London crowds who chanted “Jez We Can”. He was snapped taking the night bus home from a rally, no chauffeur-driven car.

As a fervent anti-war and pro-Palestinian activist, Corbyn has attracted the most stringent criticism for his foreign policy, with the Conservative chancellor, George Osborne, going so far as to call him a “national security threat”. He opposes the funding of Britain’s Trident nuclear missile system and has previously indicated he would favour leaving Nato, or even the European Union, though he has played down both those ideas during the campaign.

Most notable of his desire to break with the past has been his promise to apologise for Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq, should he become leader.

His decades of activism have been put under intense scrutiny as he emerged as the frontrunner, including an interview in which he called Osama bin Laden’s extrajudicial killing “a tragedy”. But he has defended many of his controversial meetings, including with Hamas, Hezbollah and others known to have expressed brazen antisemitism, as simply being willing to meet all sides of all conflicts.

His decades of activism have been put under intense scrutiny as he emerged as the frontrunner, including an interview in which he called Osama bin Laden’s extrajudicial killing “a tragedy”. But he has defended many of his controversial meetings, including with Hamas, Hezbollah and others known to have expressed brazen antisemitism, as simply being willing to meet all sides of all conflicts.

I suspect that it is his consistency and genuineness that have drawn huge crowds to his meetings and gained the support of the young, many of whom are fed up with the empty promises of unprincipled politicians. The parallels with the appeal of Bernie Sanders in the US are obvious.

Comments

  1. atheistblog says

    I still don’t get how this statement is a controversy in a western society where justice is supposedly a virtue “Osama bin Laden’s extrajudicial killing a tragedy” ?
    Hitler regime had to face the justice, but not osama ? Ahh, this guy is brown skin, and he only helped to kills less than 10, 20,000, not enough close to 1 million or 2 to face justice.
    Obama is one of the worst self interested politician in the democratic party after clinton.

  2. jockmcdock says

    Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, appeared on TDS with Jon Stewart a couple of months ago. In the last election, the SNP absolutely vanquished both Labour and the Tories, winning 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland.

    Sturgeon attributed her party’s success to having policies similar to those offered by Labour 10 or 20 years ago (I’d go for 20 rather than 10). So, a bit of Old Labour. I wonder if Corbyn will pursue similar policies and will it resonate with the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland as it appears to have done with the people of Scotland.

    Part 2 of the interview is more relevant as far as this topic goes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eilT9Icgk3g

    Part 1 for those who may be interested

  3. says

    the support of the young, many of whom are fed up with the empty promises of unprincipled politicians. The parallels with the appeal of Bernie Sanders in the US are obvious.

    It’s not just the US and UK. The NDP in Canada (also socialist) stand a very good chance of forming the next government after the election in October 2015. The recent NDP leadership (the late Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair) are much further left than NDP leaders from the 1970s to 1990s, but the party is getting more votes.

    “Red baiting” worked in the past, but not anymore because those doing it are seen as the problem. Clearly there is a rising popular backlash against corporatism and people are flocking to it.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    left0ver1under: Looks to me like Mulcair has moved the NDP closer to the centre. He would continue the Conservatives’ cash handover to people that don’t need it, via the child tax benefit, and he vows to run a balanced budget. In other words, money to the rich and austerity. Trudeau, on the other hand, has said he will run deficits to invest in much-needed infrastructure upgrades, etc.

    I’d be voting Liberal anyway, as my riding is pretty much split between CPC and Lib, but this is the first time I’d be doing it gladly.

    Note: I’m further left/progressive than either NDP or Lib, but Green certainly isn’t an option in my riding. I wish it were.

  5. Nick Gotts says

    I’ve just emailed a friend and long-time Labour leftie, eating some incautious words – specifically, about the lack of any plausible way the Labour left could ever win anything again, and therefore the pointlessness of staying in a party which has long been in a political and ideological cringe before the Tories , even when in power (or at least, office) under Blair and Brown. As I wrote to him, I’ve never been more glad to be wrong!

    Corbyn has a very difficult task ahead, but he has a huge mandate. The electoral system was largely devised by the right within the party, to reduce the power of trade union leaders. Instead of the previous 3-part electoral college (MPs, individual members, unions) it’s now a purely individual vote with the electorate including full members, “registered supporters” – who register by ringing up and paying £3 (a small sum), and affiliated supporters,i.e. members of Labour-affiliated trades unions who individually choose to take up this right. A candidate needs the nominations of a quota of MPs (36 I think with the current number of Labour MPS in Parliament). Each voter could place as many candidates as they wanted in order of preferences (the Alternative Vote System was used – and Corbyn won on first preferences alone, getting 59.5% of them, more than three times his nearest rival. However, if Corbyn had only won by relying on registered or affiliated supporters, his mandate’s validity could plausibly be questioned, but although he did best among the registered supporters, he won nearly 50% first preferences among fully paid-up members. He’s going to have problems because most Labour MPs are far to his right, but the Labour right have indeed been hoist by their own petard. As have those centrist MPs who “lent” Corbyn the nominations he needed from at least 35 MPs, who wanted to make sure the left could not complain of being excluded.

    I see Bernie Sanders has hailed Corbyn’s win. Of course, it’s not mainly about Corbyn as an individual – he’s not charismatic, as you might expect of a politician who’s 66, been an MP for more than 30 years, yet until a few months ago was practically unknown to the general public; it’s not even all about the UK Labour Party: it’s part of a trend of increasing numbers of people (although far from a majority as yet) finding a voice against” austerity”*, inequality and militarism, forcing discussion of these issues into the political and media spheres – where and how they find the vehicle differs between countries.

    * I use scare-quotes because the “need for austerity” is the central lie of current politics in capitalist democracies. Government debt levels are not, in fact historically high; they were considerably higher in the aftermath of WW2, in the lead-up to and early part of the great boom.

  6. Nick Gotts says

    Thanks Mano,

    The most important immediate effect of Corbyn’s win is that the UK now has an opposition that will actually oppose, and give a convincing appearance of believing it could make a better fist of running the country than the Tories. In retrospect, the death-knell for the Labour right and centre was the failure to vote against the latest round of welfare cuts in July: of the 4 candidates, only Corbyn voted against them (and against the party line). The SNP have been the nearest thing we’ve had to a functioning opposition – and they only count for much politically in Scotland.

    Speaking of which, a questioner at a talk by Owen Jones I attended in Edinburgh, suggested the question was not whether Corbyn could work with Nicola Sturgeon (the SNP leader), but whether he could work with Keiza Dugdale (the leader of the Scottish Labour Party) – who said of Corbyn before his election:

    So you have to convince me that he can be prime minister. Here’s a guy that’s broken the whip 500 times. So how can the leader of the party enforce discipline with that record?

    It’s unlikely Labour can break the SNP grip in Scotland in time for the next Holyrood (Scottish Parliament) elections next year – they are a rump of a party up here at present, I think with fewer members than the Scottish Green Party (which I joined after the referendum). So who gets the blame if they do badly in 2016, Dugdale or Corbyn? Corbyn’s win will attract new members to Labour in Scotland, but it’s also likely to cause internal conflicts as Corbynites and ABC-ers (Anyone But Corbyn) fight for control.

  7. Lesbian Catnip says

    Trudeau, on the other hand, has said he will run deficits to invest in much-needed infrastructure upgrades, etc.

    Will he, though?

    I don’t mean to sass, but Trudeau has been flip-flopping on nearly every plank of the Liberal platform. At least with Mulcair you know what you’re voting for. I don’t want to cast a ballot for Trudeau because he said supporting C-51 is a mistake, only for him to change his mind a third time. Mulcair has stuck to his party planks from the start.

  8. says

    Rob @4

    Trudeau, on the other hand, has said he will run deficits to invest in much-needed infrastructure upgrades, etc.

    I was pleased at first that Trudeau is willing to run deficits (which are far from the evil they are portrayed as), but then I was reading the Liberal websites and came across the right-wing talking point “job-killing tax hikes”. http://www.liberal.ca/mulcair-will-hurt-aerospace-sector-by-raising-corporate-taxes-breaking-promises/ Yes, they talk about cancelling tax breaks for the wealthy elsewhere, but taking an oligarchy-supporting right-wing talking point like was enough. I was teetering between NDP and Liberal (thanks to Mulcair shooting down the possibility of deficit spending), but that pushed me firmly into voting for an imperfect NDP over a much worse Liberal Party.

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