With just over 8 weeks to go until the Labour Conference in Brighton in which the next leader of the Labour Party will be announced, one candidate – Jeremy Corbyn – is breaking away from the pack; if a recent YouGov poll is to be trusted.
Corbyn is, by far and away, the most left-leaning candidate in the leadership contest and has managed to spur life into the otherwise dry and homogeneous debates and hustings of the formal leadership race; other candidates for the Labour leadership include Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. Whilst the other candidates are either very centrist in views, or emphatic New Labour supporters – particular emphasis on Kendall and Burnham here – Corbyn is deemed, by many in the popular press as well as more left-wing commentators such as Owen Jones, as a breath of fresh air; an old flame that has been burning quietly away at Labour’s core since the very miner strikes of the 1980’s that have such credence in today’s current socio-political climate.
Oft described as an ascetic character, Corbyn appears also highly principled and parallels can be so easily drawn between Corbyn and what appears to be his US counterpart; the liberal Democrat vying for the US Presidency, Bernie Sanders.
Speaking at a packed town hall meeting in Bristol at Montpelier’s Malcolm X Community Centre on Thursday, Corbyn made clear that progress has been made but that there is a long way to go over the coming 8 weeks between now and the Leadership vote and following announcement at the Labour Conference in Brighton. During a 2 hour Q+A session to over 400 people – there were no empty seats in the building that night – Corbyn covered his stance on wide-ranging issues, from arms sales to industrial disputes, to the Iraq War and the future of Labour.
In his opinion, the Party should not at all shy away from it’s long-standing roots with unions, neither should it bow to Tony Blair’s recent advice to return to the centre in the political field. Instead, while the other major parties in the UK politics veer to the right, Labour should become a solid opposition and swing to the left. Corbyn, a long-standing friend of the recently deceased Labour MP Tony Benn, is anti-war, anti-austerity and also anti-big business.
With Corbyn’s seat at the table for the Leadership, the race has re-ignited. What remains to be seen, however, is the tall order in which he must persuade the staunch Blairite MPs within the current Labour Party to vote for him come September. Following comments from former Labour leader, Tony Blair, criticising the idea that Corbyn could very well come the next Labour leader and that those whose heart was with him “should get a heart transplant… as that is just daft.” the question remains: can Corbyn successfully lead the Party back from the brink?
One thing to bear in mind is how terribly wrong the pollsters were the last time round; all the General Election predictions featured a hung Parliament between Labour and the Conservatives. What happened in actual fact was a drubbing of Labour and the Lib Dems by the SNP – so much so as the Scottish National Party is oft seen as the defacto opposition to Cameron’s Tories. With barely 25% of the popular vote, the Conservatives kept hold of the keys to Number 10, but this time without the safeguards of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.
With just over 8 weeks to go until the Leadership announcement following the Labour Party Conference in Brighton between the 27th-30th September 2015, several questions must be asked.
Can Corbyn translate the groundswell into voters and, crucially, Labour members? Are the current polls indeed correct? Can Corbyn lead the Labour Party away from the brink of uselessness and back into the party of the working people?
To find out more about the candidates of the Labour Leadership race, please visit the following article: