The UK’s major opposition party has radically shifted the political spectrum by electing self-described socialist politician Jeremy Corbyn to lead the party.
When Corbyn was nominated to run in the Labour party leadership race earlier this summer, winning was never part of the plan. Corbyn was selected as a token gesture to broaden the debate; he barely scrapped enough nominations to be included on the ballot paper, and his odds were set at 100-1.
But the strong convictions of the 66-year-old politician, who has voted against his own party leadership more than 500 times, resonated with Labour supporters.
And after an impressive grassroots campaign, Jeremy Corbyn has won the race for Labour leader.
Corbyn beat several center-left candidates to secure leadership, and is far further to the left than most Labour politicians.
He is in favor of:
- Renationalizing the railways and energy companies
- A “maximum wage” to limit the salaries of top executives
- A minimum wage of £10 per hour
- Financing large scale housing, energy and transport projects through quantitative easing
- Crackdown on tax avoidance and tax evasion
- Increased top rate of income tax
- Scrapping university tuition fees at a cost of £10bn
- Nuclear disarmament in the UK
- Cutting defense spending
Corbyn has often been compared to Bernie Sanders, in that both were nominated as outside candidates but received unexpected surges of support. And indeed Corbyn says that the two politicians have been in touch.
But just as Sanders is unlikely to become President, Corbyn’s nomination could prove disastrous for Labour’s hopes of winning a national election.
Labour decisively lost the UK election this year in part because the previous party leader, Ed Miliband, was seen as too left wing and a risky choice to manage the economy.
Several Labour politicians are expected to resign following Corbyn’s nomination, and many have spoken out against the candidate.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that the party will face “annihilation” with Corbyn as leader. In an article for The Guardian, he wrote:
The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below… It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the left, right or centre of the party, whether you used to support me or hate me. But please understand the danger we are in.
The party’s former foreign secretary, David Miliband, also argued against Corbyn in an article for The Guardian, saying:
The Corbyn programme looks backwards. The pledges of nationalisation, 7p in the pound increases in national insurance for those earning more than £50,000, and equivocation about Britain’s place in the EU are the same ideas that I learned were wrong when I joined the Labour party in 1981.
But Labour supporters have ignored the warnings and voted with their principles. And while many worry that Corbyn could destroy Britain, there are thousands of others who see him as a source of hope.