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Corbyn's victory seems to indicate Labor wants to move to the left and away from Blair-Brown era

Monday, September 14th 2015 - 09:24 UTC
Full article 6 comments
Corbyn has never held a ministerial role and his rivals collectively have greater government experience. But Blairite candidate Liz Kendall, only managed 4.5%. Corbyn has never held a ministerial role and his rivals collectively have greater government experience. But Blairite candidate Liz Kendall, only managed 4.5%.
Many MPs believe Labor lost the last election because its manifesto was too left-wing. Most of Corbyn's positions are significantly to the left of that platform. Many MPs believe Labor lost the last election because its manifesto was too left-wing. Most of Corbyn's positions are significantly to the left of that platform.

When Jeremy Corbyn entered the race to lead the Labor Party earlier this year, he struggled to get the 35 nominations from members of parliament needed to make it onto the ballot. That is a distant memory after he won a resounding victory to become the leader of the party. With 59.5% of the first-preference votes, Corbyn's mandate beats that won by Tony Blair in 1994.

 Corbyn has never held a ministerial role. His rivals collectively have far greater experience in government. But Andy Burnham won just 19% of the vote, Yvette Cooper 17%; Liz Kendall, the Blairite candidate, came last, with just 4.5%. Corbyn's campaign saw a surge in new Labor members, with supporters signing up in order to vote for him and paying the party 3 pounds for the privilege.

“Regardless of your views of his policy platform, it is important to acknowledge that Corbyn's campaign has inspired tens of thousands of people to involve themselves in the political sphere - a significant feat in an era of declining political engagement” said Charlie Cadywould, researcher in citizenship and political participation at the think tank Demos.

“His success demonstrates the desire of many Labor supporters for the party to move further to the left and away from the Blair-Brown era. However, Corbyn has also left himself considerable room for maneuver on key policy areas, and the need to balance viewpoints and keep a fractured party together may mean a more moderate suite of policies than some would imagine.”

In his acceptance speech, Corbyn stressed the need for unity. He said his first action as leader would be to attend a protest march in solidarity with refugees - but his first major task will undoubtedly be to unite members of parliament behind his leadership and persuade senior politicians to serve in his shadow Cabinet. Labor MPs overwhelmingly voted for other candidates - by 210 to 20. Many MPs believe that Labor lost the last election because its manifesto was too left-wing. Most of Corbyn's positions are significantly to the left of that platform.

“First of all there'll be a show of unity - I think Corbyn will try to reach out to all sections of the party, the Liz Kendall wing if you like,” said James Bloodworth, editor of the blog Left Foot Forward. “At the same time, it'll be hard to maintain that unity. Labor Party figures appearing on television will be asked if they agree with things he's done over the years - they'll find it really hard to give the party line.”

Throughout the leadership campaign, Corbyn was criticized in the media for his stance on various foreign policy issues, including his willingness to share a stage with Hamas and Hezbollah. Some analysts suggest that these past positions will become more of a problem as foreign policy moves up the agenda, with Prime Minister David Cameron considering further military action in the Middle East.

Prior to Corbyn's stunning victory, it was suggested that even if he won, he would soon be ousted. The size of his mandate, he was victorious not just among supporters who paid their 3 pounds, but in every category of the electorate, as well, calls that into question. “My feeling is his landslide means that he will lead Labor into the 2020 election,” Stephen Bush, editor of the New Statesman magazine's Staggers blog pointed out.

“As a result, I think it's highly likely the Tories will remain in office.” Labor has a poor record of ousting unpopular leaders, although next year's local elections will be a key indicator of whether Corbyn will survive as leader until 2020.

Corbyn, who is 66, is associated with the traditional hard left of the Labor Party, and some fear that his politics are regressive. “For the party to become relevant and electable, he must seek out challenging new ideas, not hark back to the rigid certainties of the 1980s,” pointed out Andrew Harrop, general secretary of the socialist Fabian Society. “Labor must face the future. In a little over four months, the mainstream of the Labor Party has suffered two extraordinary election defeats. In May it was rejected by the country, and today it has been spurned by its own members and supporters. All those in the Labor family who did not support Corbyn must now reflect on these twin failures with humility and make a deep commitment to rebuild, reach out and reconnect.” Harrop added that Labor could only make a difference in power: “Principles are nothing without well-evidenced solutions. Ideological purity is nothing without power.”

Most commentators agree that Corbyn fought an excellent campaign. He was underestimated by his rivals for the first half, which gave him time to build an impressive support base. “He's the candidate not afraid to talk about first principles,” Bloodworth said. “He'd talk at debates about grotesque inequality, basic Labor principles. The others agree but appear to have forgotten how to talk about Labor reducing inequality and being a force for peace in the world. I disagree with how he thinks we'll get there, particularly on foreign policy, but his message was clearer.”

Many voters clearly agreed. “It's great to see somebody principled who stood on an electoral campaign based on principled beliefs victorious, rather than another candidate parroting banalities based on focus groups,” longtime Labor Party member Owen Kean said. “It's a shame that none of the other candidates could muster a coherent campaign that anyone could believe in. It did feel like there was really only one option. It's also encouraging that Corbyn appears to have appeal outside the core base. Even if he doesn't win the general election in 2020 - or make it that far - I hope it will move British politics towards a more honest and principled ground.”

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • Conqueror

    The consensus is that the LABOUR party has selected a new leader in order to follow the LibDems into oblivion. (NB. It's only Labor in America).

    Sep 14th, 2015 - 11:57 am 0
  • reality check

    Labour got stuffed in the last election and their answer?

    Elect a Marxist has their leader!

    Like that's gonna work.

    You couldn't make it up if you tried.

    Sep 14th, 2015 - 03:15 pm 0
  • Conqueror

    @2. Even better, Corbyn aims to reverse every policy formulated over the last 20 or more years. Borrow, cosy up to the Russians, deny British values, encourage muslim invaders, forget the prices Britain has paid, leading from the back, minority rule, puerile, rabid stupidity.

    For the rest, the real British people will do what is necessary. No room for Corbyn. Would Britain really want this incompetent, commie idiot to represent it in the world? Better to shoot it!

    Sep 14th, 2015 - 04:18 pm 0
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