Jeremy Corbyn wins UK Labour leadership bid
Radio New Zealand International
September 13, 2015 6:05 pm
The new leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has promised to lead a Labour fightback after its dismal showing in May’s general election.
The 66-year-old got almost 60 percent of more than 400,000 votes cast, trouncing three rivals.
A parliamentary veteran of 32 years, who has many times in the past voted against his own party – notably against the war in Iraq – Corbyn immediately faced an exodus of shadow cabinet members.
The Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, has portrayed him as a threat to both economic and domestic security.
And the former Labour prime minister, Tony Blair, has said the party was “walking eyes shut, arms outstretched over the cliff’s edge”.
However senior figures, including Ed Miliband, who abruptly quit as leader after the election, urged the party’s MPs to get behind him.
Corbyn was a 200 to 1 outsider when the three-month leadership contest began but he swept to victory on a wave of enthusiasm for his anti-austerity message.
He also promised to scrap Britain’s nuclear weapons and re-nationalise the railways and major utilities such as energy companies.
The result is being seen as game changing for the UK’s main opposition party.
The left-winger, who has spent his entire parliamentary career in the Commons on the backbenches, promised to fight for a more tolerant and inclusive Britain – and to tackle “grotesque levels of inequality in our society”.
“I say thank you in advance to us all working together to achieve great victories not just electorally for Labour but emotionally for the whole of our society – to show we don’t have to be unequal, it doesn’t have to be unfair, poverty isn’t inevitable.”
As well as inequality at home, Corbyn’s acceptance speech focused on the refugee crisis in Europe.
His first act as leader was to attend a “refugees welcome here” rally, joining tens of thousands of people marching through central London in support of the rights of refugees.