In my previous post on Labour’s leadership campaign, I mentioned 3 people who were running for the post. Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, and Liz Kendall.
Little did I know that minutes before the deadline, a man by the name of Jeremy Corbyn would slip onto the ballot. Many of the people who nominated him did not even endorse his policies; they only wanted to broaden the debate about what kind of future Labour wants. I’ll be the first to admit I knew next to nothing about him before the election. Don’t get the wrong idea though. Corbyn is definitely not one to shy away from controversy, having invited Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein to London in 1984, which was widely panned by many at the time. Considering I was born in 2000, it’s no surprise I was unaware of his fairly turbulent past.
So why is this man polling figures that suggest he might even win the leadership election? Here are a few reasons why I think he’s doing as well as he is.
A clear stance against austerity
With Liz Kendall bemoaning Syriza as ‘extremists’, those who hold the far-left Greece party in higher regard will be pleased to know that Corbyn is a supporter of them, having voiced his satisfaction at their burgeoning popularity in a tweet three years ago. He’s also the most critical of Tory austerity out of the leadership candidates, having vehemently criticised their attempts to destroy the welfare system. Considering Harriet Harman, acting leader of the party, infuriated many by agreeing to parts of the recent budget, there is a real craving for a leader who staunchly opposes Tory policies. So far Jeremy Corbyn has been seen as that person.
A lack of accountability for the shortcomings of ‘New Labour’
Labour presided over the infamous Iraq war and the introduction of university fees. Corbyn voted against both, as well as subsequent tripling of fees from £3,000 to £9,000 per annum. He’s also put out a plan explaining how he would scrap university tuition fees, with an increase in corporation tax and slowing down deficit reduction among the points put forward by him. He has also never been afraid to veer away from party policy, having rebelled 533 times since 1997. This is a man who has voted against many things that members of the Labour party regret from the days of Blair and so his opposition to these things gives him a clean slate in that that respect.
Experience and grit
Kendall, Burnham and Cooper were 11, 13, and 14 respectively when Jeremy Corbyn took up his position as MP of Islington North. He has been through his fair shares of ups and downs, and amidst the changes in the political landscape, he has remained an avowed socialist. He has been attacked by the Conservatives as far back as 1987 and through all of this, he has remained an MP and an admired figure. The other three candidates can not boast of such loathing from the opposing party. Corbyn’s image as a hard left politician has left no-one in doubt that he opposes the almost everything the Conservatives stand for. He has a very defined identity, and no-one can take that away from him.
Do you think Corbyn is the man to lead Labour or do you think he will make them utterly unelectable? Leave a comment below.