Comrade Corbyn?
'Only time can tell if Corbyn will survive his term as leader of the opposition.'
Joe Davern | 21 January 2016

A topic of much controversy recently, Mr Corbyn is increasingly seen as a lefty scoundrel in the British media. But is there more than meets the eye?

In early September of last year, Jeremy Corbyn “flattened three moderate rivals” (as The Economist so bluntly put it) to become the leader of the Labour Party. But, with all the controversy surrounding his name, are the British public allowing preconceived notions to affect their opinions on this hard line left-winger?

Born the son of a maths teacher and electrical engineer in Wiltshire, and gaining an education at an independent school before “passing” two A-Levels with E grades, Corbyn is not quite the man/monster people always make him out to be.

In many aspects Jeremy Corbyn is a typical “old-stock” socialist. He found his footing in the political world representing various trade unions before becoming a councillor in the Haringey borough of London and  assisting Tony Benn in his unsuccessful 1981 campaign to become deputy leader of the Labour Party. The following year Corbyn’s name was put forward as the labour candidate for Islington North. He subsequently won the seat and has retained the position ever since.

Despite being re-elected no less than 7 times, Jeremy Corbyn’s career as an MP has been turbulent from the very start. Corbyn’s extreme version of socialism has put him at odds with the official policies of his own party. During the last Labour government that spanned from 1997-2010, Mr Corbyn was widely regarded as a rogue Labour backbencher who defied the three party whip system nearly 300 times in the last government alone. He was unwilling to accept the compromises made by Tony Blair during Labour’s last stint in government and remains a firm proponent for renationalising the railways and scrapping tuition fees in spite of his party’s official policies. His uncompromising socialist voting habits are both admirable and rebellious and can be seen clearly in the table below, with statistics supplied by The Economist.

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His staunch and stern socialist views often seemed to jeopardise his position as MP, so if you asked anyone with sound political knowledge last year if he stood a chance of being in the running for the Labour leadership, they would have snubbed the idea without reservation.

But in September 2015 not only did he appear on the Labour leadership ballot, he went on to clinch a landslide majority of the votes in “true 1997 Labour style.” Mr Corbyn was the red flag waving idealist who rekindled the socialist spirit of apathetic Labour supporters, he was a complete contrast to moderate Blair and hopeless Miliband, socialists across the nation saw an opportunity to undo the Blairite compromises of New Labour and return to their old stomping ground left of centre. Aesthetically, Corbyn would also change the image of the party and hopefully cover up the embarrassing buffoonery left behind by Wallace lookalike - Ed Miliband.

Jeremy Corbyn’s early impressions were less than favourable. Whether it be the fashion faux pas of socks with sandals or his refusal to sing God Save the Queen at the 2015 remembrance service, his unwavering political integrity precedes him. Personally, I find his loyalty to old school socialism a welcome change in a world where pragmatism dominates politics. Whether he will remain leader of Her Majesty’s opposition until the next general election is a hot topic. Perhaps Mr Corbyn deserves more credit from both the public and the media, his outrageous truthfulness and honesty is refreshing in a period of stagnating conservatism. He is clearly a man who cares about the most vulnerable in society, both domestically and abroad, with proposed policies to bridge the gap between rich and poor, and it is that quality that won him the leadership. Only time can tell if Corbyn will survive his term as leader of the opposition, but a little faith goes a long way. After all, why should he be demonised for his socialist stance?

 

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James Routledge 2016