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Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party Leader, Hero or Villain?

Updated on September 2, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Populist Leader or Political Giant?

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I took this image at a local rally in 2016 attended by a few thousand peopleClose to the stageGreat crowdJoe Solo gave a passionate performanceThe crowd listened carefully to speakers M.P. Richard Burgon and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
I took this image at a local rally in 2016 attended by a few thousand people
I took this image at a local rally in 2016 attended by a few thousand people | Source
Close to the stage
Close to the stage
Great crowd
Great crowd
Joe Solo gave a passionate performance
Joe Solo gave a passionate performance
The crowd listened carefully to speakers M.P. Richard Burgon and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
The crowd listened carefully to speakers M.P. Richard Burgon and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Who is Jeremy Corbyn?

Jeremy Bernard Corbyn is a 69-year-old veteran Labour Party M.P. known in the past as a party rebel.

Mr Corbyn has represented the Islington North constituency of London since 1983.

His continued electoral success locally is a testimony to him as a political representative.

He is known as a firebrand for his political activism and involvement in groups such as Stop The War.

Never afraid to defy the party whip his supporters will tell you he is a man of principles who can never be bought.

His detractors may tell you he is hopeless, a Trot, a Marxist, antisemitic and more concluding that if he ever became the country’s Prime Minister he would ruin the country.

So is he party leader and potential Prime Ministerial material?

Against the odds Jeremy Corbyn won a landslide Labour party election in 2015 to become the Labour leader.

But even before he was elected, when he was just on the party’s ballot papers, he faced tough opposition within Labour’s ranks.

To an outsider it is very complicated but even to party members it is far from simple.

Jeremy Corbyn Party Leader

  • Ed Miliband led the Labour Party into the 2015 General Election
  • He did not win this election and was soon sacrificed as the one to blame
  • The party required would be successors to secure a number of nominations to get on the ballot
  • Against expectations Jeremy Corbyn joined Liz Kendal, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham as prospective party leader
  • Corbyn won by a landslide which some claim was in part due to Labour electoral changes brought in by Ed Miliband
  • In an attempt to give power back to the members various changes resulted in £3 party affiliates getting a leadership vote
  • The party bureaucracy tightened qualifying deadlines and more to prevent Corbyn winning but failed
  • So Mr Corbyn took over the reins of Labour and a divided party
  • He had and still has many supporters while others in many cases yearning for the politics of former party leader Tony Blair proved themselves unable to move on
  • Division among the PLP, Parliamentary Labour Party, quickly led to shadow cabinet resignations and dissent
  • A challenger Owen Smith stepped into the fray and during the summer of 2016 Corbyn toured the U.K. attending rallies and shoring up support
  • Owen Smith was spectacularly defeated and Jeremy remained party leader
  • Two years on divisions have widened and scars remain raw
  • Parliament is due to return from recess soon and the Tory Prime Minister Theresa May has an armoury of ammunition she can and will use against Corbyn and sadly much of it is thanks to some in Labour

Glastnbury 2017 - Oh Jeremy Corbyn

Potted History of British Politics from a Leftie Slant

The British Labour Party is traditionally viewed as on the left-wing of the political spectrum. On the exact opposite point occupying the right-wing is the Conservative Party sometimes called the Tory Party.

There was a time

  • when ordinary people were excluded from voting
  • when women were excluded
  • when you had to be aged 21 and over to vote
  • when there was no real left of centre politics
  • when Labour and the Tories were the two main political parties with lots of other inconsequential parties in the mix
  • now when additional parties such as Ukip have gathered votes though not English seats in parliament.

The Liberal Party had some success, morphed into the Liberal Democrats, and looked set to become a real political force in the U.K. before selling out and joining forces as a coalition government with the Tories from 2010 until 2015.

That coalition period was popularly called the Condem years and sealed the Lib Dems fate.

On the back of the Global Economic crisis of 2008 the Labour government unwittingly took the rap and ten years later the Tories continue to blame Labour for the enforced period of austerity British people endured during those Condem years.

Apart from the poor and vulnerable losing out the Liberal Democrats became hated by many for enabling the Tories to exact their policies of austerity.

As someone who occupies the left of centre wing British politics my opinion is slashing services was always about political agendas and never about the economic crisis.

Since devolution specific national parties such as the S.N.P., Scottish National Party, in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales have had political success adding a further twist to the Westminster political landscape. Both of these parties were formed with independence from England and the rest of the U.K. in mind.

A clear choice or a confused one?
A clear choice or a confused one? | Source

Brexit

On June 23, 2016, British people voted in a referendum.

The referendum offered a simple yes or no to the U.K. staying part of the European Union or heading out the door.

This vote has proved possibly the most divisive and destructive in U.K. ever!

The outcome has been called Brexit in other words the U.K. leaving the E.U.

The U.K. Prime Minister of the day David Cameron, Conservative, spent a great deal of time securing what he claimed was a good deal for the U.K. before calling the referendum.

Why?

Just why Cameron called this referendum is debatable.

I tend to agree with the train of thought that claims Cameron knew the Tories were losing supporters to Ukip, the United Kingdom Independence Party, and it was political opportunism.

However the E.U referendum was a stark lesson to politicians - Never take voters for granted.

The turn out for the vote was massive resulting in a majority across the U.K. choosing to leave the E.U. and highlighting how out of touch many politicians are with the electorate.

However some cities and regions voted heavily to either stay in or get out.

The people of Scotland for example voted by a majority to stay as part of the E.U. but the numbers were counted across the whole of the U.K. and the result simply declared by the final tally.

The nature of the referendum. regional differences and devolution added an extra twist.

More than two years later Brexit remains a political minefield which has spun British politics on its head!

Corbyn and Brexit

Brexit has been another weapon to attack Corbyn.

Known for his anti E.U. stance decades ago those in the party who voted ‘in’ have been dismissive of his alleged change of stance to supporting remain.

Blame Corbyn is not just a Tory mantra it is a way of life for some political pundits, the mainstream media, the Tory government and some Labour M.P.s.

The Rebel, Protester and Activist

Protesting South Africa’s apartheid
Protesting South Africa’s apartheid | Source

Corbyn Populist or Political Giant?

Corbyn always occupied the left of centre wing of the Labour Party, a party founded in the late 1900’s and with its roots in the Trade Union movement.

The first Labour Party government was formed in 1924 and since then Westminster has had Labour followed by Conservative followed by Labour governments in effect taking turns running and some would say ruining the country.

With very different political agendas there have been obvious problems.

Labour happily admits it is a broad-church but that inclusiveness has caused a range of problems down the years.

In 1997 Labour leader Tony Blair became Prime Minister after a landslide election victory.

The Tories had been in power since 1979 and people were desperate for change. Blair led a less socialist and more middle of the road centrist Labour nicely re-named New Labour into government.

People were optimistic and Blair briefly had the Midas touch.

The Iraq War, Afghanistan, Libya and the global economic crisis helped destroy Blair’s legacy. The term Blairite is now offensive even to his faithful followers.

Jeremy Corbyn is everything Tony Blair was not

Corbyn supporters are difficult to categorize. Some are young but others old. He has a great deal of support from the traditional working class but also from voters that are more middle class. His political fan base crosses ethnicities and the whole of Britain.

As politics in the U.K. and across the Pond in the U.S.A. continues to break with the established order is Corbyn anything more than a populist?

For me yes he is

Take a close look at Jeremy Corbyn and you will see a principled man who is not for sale to the highest bidder.

Little wonder then that the establishment fear him and his mass movement of supporters.

The next U.K. General Election is scheduled for 2020.

It is doubtful Theresa May will call an earlier election. She did that in 2017, lost her majority and now leads a hung parliament propped up for a price by the D.U.P.

But the Tories may yet call a snap election with a different party leader.

Mrs May has already said she will stand down in 2019. A Tory Party leadership election is expected in the summer of 2019.

Politics is a strange business though and she could still be ousted.

Currently Jeremy Corbyn continues to face an onslaught of allegations aimed at discrediting him and limiting his electability.

For many publications Corbyn is big news and wild and wacky stories guarantee readers whether fact-based or fiction.

In some cases the wackier the better.

Age is not on Corbyn’s side though he is sprightly and appears very fit.

He could be the best leader the country has ever had and become a political giant or ..... Well there are a few possible scenarios.

At time of writing Jeremy Corbyn is a bit like Marmite - you either love him or hate him.

His supporters hope that with or without Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party will move from centrist politics to the left.

The plan is that a younger party leader cast in the Corbyn mould will eventually take over.

Sadly internal Labour party wrangling looks set to benefit their political opponents.

Whether the Corbyn project can be fulfilled is not clear.

Kingston-upon-Hull July 2016

© 2018 Ethel Smith

Comments

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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      2 months ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Yes I know. I was not a fan but am a supporter now. But it is a complicated issue

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 months ago from UK

      Jeremy Corbyn causes a lot of discussion. I can never quite predict who will be a pro or anti Corbynite.

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