After the big shock election result in May, I don’t think anyone expected another such political shock so soon! The rise in popularity of Jeremy Corbyn has been extraordinary to watch and whether you like him or not, it proves that democracy is still alive in the UK.
Who is Jeremy Corbyn?
Corbyn is a backbench MP for Labour in the constituency of Islington North since 1983. Quite the veteran of both British politics and the Labour party! Corbyn has always been one of the most left-wing members of the Labour Party. He immediately joined the Socialist Campaign Group upon his election to Parliament. He’s certainly a popular candidate in his constituency where he managed to accrue a phenomenal majority of 21,194 votes (43%), which is something rarely achieved, let alone in what was a disastrous election for the Labour Party.
During Labour’s time in government, Corbyn proved to be quite the rebel. He regularly ignored the party line – in the 2005-10 Parliament he ignored the whip 238 times! More recently, he was one of 16 Labour MPs who signed a letter to Ed Miliband, urging him to oppose austerity. Unlike most MPs who claim to be for the working people, Corbyn can back this claim. In 2010, he was revealed to have claimed the lowest amount in expenses out of all 650 MPs.
Why has Jeremy Corbyn become so popular?
As you can see, Corbyn is very much a ‘man of the people’ and takes seriously the importance of public money and a regular campaigner against austerity and the current poverty which some working people have found themselves in under the Tories. Since 1997, Labour has very much been a centre-wing party on the spectrum. Ed Miliband moved slightly towards the left-wing, but ultimately his weak leadership and Labour’s poor record on the economy cost them the election with undecided voters (myself included). However, the traditional centre party (the Liberal Democrats) had an awful election. Perhaps Miliband was prudent to shift the party focus slightly to the left. Perhaps Corbyn’s popularity is party of Labour’s growing lurch back to being a left-wing party?
Corbyn decided to stand as Labour Leader candidate for this reason. He believed the UK was lacking a significant left-wing voice. After the election, there were millions of disgruntled voters who were forced to put up with the Tories’ plans for major cuts. This anger has only fuelled the campaign of the left-wing candidate, who very much has the interests of these people as the core of his policies.
The most significant reason for me is that Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper have been massive disappointments. Both have failed to prove they are bold enough to become Labour leader have pretty much picked up where Ed Miliband left off. The Labour Party needs a radicial overhaul and a new direction. Churning out the continued party line from Miliband’s leadership won’t win back the supporters. As characters themselves, Burnham and Cooper have failed to prove themselves as captivating leaders. Whereas, Corbyn has presented himself as something fresh and different from the Tories.
Will Labour win under Corbyn?
I’d say this is highly unlikely. Corbyn is far too polarising and doesn’t have enough widespread support nor does he appeal enough to the mainstream voters to win an election. A victory for Corbyn will set Labour back further and effectively hand the Tories the 2020 Election victory five years before its even taken place. Major Labour figures, such as Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell have also warned against Corbyn. It’s very hard to see him gaining the momentum for an election victory at this stage. However, politics is extremely fast moving and who knows what could happen in a few years time.