UK Labour Party elects its first left-wing leader in more than 20 years

After decades of Blairite, New Labour politics that catered to banks, built out mass surveillance and attacked unions and the working poor, the UK Labour Party has elected a genuine left-wing leader, by a landslide: democratic socialist Jeremy Corbyn.



The remarkable thing about Corbyn's victory is how remarkable it is. Corbyn polled very high through most of the race, but was characterised by wonks and Labour grandees as a joke candidate who couldn't possibly win (these were the same people, by and large, who backed the last two Labour leaders, both of whom lost elections so comprehensively that they endangered Labour's standing as a mainstream party).

When Corbyn couldn't be ignored any longer, the establishment began to smear him with absurd claims of antisemitism.

Now that he's won, they're treating it as evidence of Labour having lost its mind.

But the truth is that Labour is meant to be the left-wing alternative to the Tories. From the Blair years on, left-wing Britons held their noses and voted for the right-wing leaders who'd colonised the party, but in every election, more and more found themselves unable to back the oligarch-friendly policies of New Labour. I quit Labour for the Libdems, then the Greens, trying to find a party -- any party -- that would stand on a policy that favoured humans over corporations and human rights over authoritarianism.

Corbyn's policies in a nutshell: "renationalisation of public utilities and railways, re-opening coal mines, combating corporate tax evasion and avoidance as an alternative to austerity, abolishing university tuition fees and restoring student grants, a unilateral policy of nuclear disarmament and cancellation of the Trident nuclear weapons programme, quantitative easing to fund infrastructure and renewable energy projects, and reversing cuts to the public sector and welfare made since 2010 by the Cameron Government."

I'm with him on all of this except the coal-mines. He wants to get rid of the Queen, too, but hasn't made it a policy goal. Specifically, he wants to turn the UK into a "democratic, federal and secular Commonwealth of Britain", with an elected President, devolution, abolition of the House of Lords and an equal representation of men and women in Parliament."

Corbyn also had the lowest expenses of any sitting MP.

Corbyn's deputy PM candidate is Tom Watson, the copyfighting, hard-charging, Murdoch-slaying titan of the Labour party who has been practically the sole voice of sanity in UK Labour on Internet freedom.

The fascinating parallel here is with Bernie Sanders. The US Democrats have been fronting right-wing politicians for decades. Bill Clinton's southern strategy was several miles to the right of anything Richard Nixon put forward. Obama packed his cabinet with Goldman Sachs alums and other emissaries from corporate America, the transhuman colony organisms that view human beings as inconvenient gut-flora.

Occupy showed us that there is no consensus on neoliberalism and finance capitalism. That inchoate furious energy has been sloshing around, looking for an outlet. It's found Corbyn. Maybe it'll find Sanders, too.

An overwhelming 85% of people who signed up as affiliated supporters for £3 voted for Mr Corbyn - but he also topped the ballot among party members and trade unionists.

The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said this broad support gave Mr Corbyn a strong mandate and would silence those on the right of the Labour Party who had been plotting to get rid of Mr Corbyn at the earliest opportunity, as he had "totally obliterated" his opponents.

The Islington North MP said his first action as Labour leader would be to join a demonstration with refugees.

He also made clear that his first day in Parliament as leader will see him oppose the government's efforts "to shackle unions in the Trade Union Bill which they are bringing forward on Monday".

Mr Corbyn's predecessor as Labour leader Ed Miliband gave his "full support" to Mr Corbyn but said he expected him to "reach out to all parts of our party".

Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership contest [BBC]

(Image: Jeremy Corbyn No More War, Garry Knight, CC-BY)