Jeremy Corbyn has shaken British politics to their roots. A quintessential anti-establishment figure and anti-war activist, he won leadership of the Labour Party by a landslide securing nearly 60% of the vote. He has also energized the youth and promised to make Britain more tolerant and reduce the grotesque levels of inequality. While he will face many challenges, his leadership campaign has shown he has what it takes to mobilize people.
Saturday, September 12, 2015, 20:37 DST
Considered an outsider in British politics and with little chance of winning when he entered the leadership race, Jeremy Corbyn has confounded pundits and his critics by winning the leadership of the Labour Party. He has also energized the youth of Britain that were considered too apolitical vote. He won by a landslide securing nearly 60% of first preference votes beating his nearest rival, Andy Burnham by a 40% margin.
A massive 422,664 people cast their vote—a turnout of 76%. That is an impressive achievement representing a new, more exciting trend in British politics. Burnham got 19% of the vote while the other two contenders—Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall—secured 17% and 4.5% respectively.
In his acceptance speech, Corbyn thanked the Labour movement, especially the unions and youth for their support in ensuring his victory. The long-time anti-war activist has been the bane of traditional Labour Party against whom he voted 500 times in his 32-year parliamentary career. In fact, he is the quintessential anti-establishment figure refusing to wear a tie, considered part of traditional formal dress in stiff upper-lip Britain.
He does not own a car preferring to ride on public transport. He is an avid cyclist, a vegetarian and he does not drink alcohol. Condemning the "grotesque levels of inequality in British society" Corbyn promised to fight for a more tolerant and inclusive Britain. Pointing to the leadership campaign, he said it "showed our party and our movement, passionate, democratic, diverse, united and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all.”
He had his young supporters enthralled when he pointed out that it was a lie to claim that young Britons were apathetic to politics. He said: "They are fed up with the inequality, the injustice, the unnecessary poverty.” He said his campaign had shown that they are "a very political generation that were turned off by the way in which politics was being conducted. We have to, and must, change that."
Corbyn received sustained applause when he said “All those issues have brought people in, in a spirit of hope and optimism." He added: "The fight back now of our party gathers speed and gathers pace." It would not be easy since the establishmentarians in the Labour Party are out with their daggers.
The Labour Parliamentary group that considers itself gatekeepers of the Party has already announced they will not serve in his shadow cabinet. Several shadow members have resigned although the outgoing leader Ed Miliband has thrown his support behind him and has urged party members to support the new leader.
One immediate supporter was George Galloway, the articulate former Labour Party MP who left the party to form his own Respect Party. He said he would return to the fold. Corbyn has said he would welcome everyone back into the Labour fold. To thunderous applause, he said: “Welcome back home.” The reason why Corbyn scares the British establishment is that he is opposed to war, the nuclear arms race (he wants to end Britain’s nuclear weapons and the Trident) as well as reform in Nato or as prime minister he will take Britain out of the militaristic alliance.
He is for the poor, homeless, downtrodden and refugees. To prove his sincerity, he was out marching in the streets in support of the hundreds of thousands of refugees trekking across Europe escaping war zones. He said refugees were welcome in Britain and took the right-wing press to task for demonizing them.
Corbyn supports the Palestinian people in their struggle against Zionism as well as Hizbullah's resistance to Zionist occupation. He has made leaders of both movements despite strong opposition from the British establishment including members of his own Labour Party that are beholden to the Zionist lobby in Britain. British politics have entered a new and more exciting phase.
If Corbyn can keep the energized youth focused, Britain might well become a more tolerant and compassionate society, stepping away from the divisive and dismissive politics of the Tories and the Blairites.
Not surprisingly, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, has indulged in scaremongering saying: "Labour are now a serious risk to our nation's security, our economy's security and your family's security.”
What Labour under Corbyn may be a threat to is the warmongers’ policies that have made Britain more divided and widened its inequalities.