Jeremy Corbyn: elected Labour leader in landslide victory

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Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as the new Labour leader after just one round of voting, leaving the three other candidates trailing in his wake.

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He received 59.5 per cent of the vote, and a huge cheer from Labour delegates. The margin of victory was much larger than had been predicted, putting Corbyn in an unassailable position.

“Those who think they can get rid of Jeremy Corbyn any time soon are going to have to think again,” said the BBC’s chief political correspondent. “He has a rock-solid mandate, an unbelieveable mandate”

Moments after his victory had been announced, Corbyn took to the stage at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster to chants of “yes we did”. When they had died down, he paid tribute to his predecessor, Ed Miliband, and made a pointed attack on the media coverage he received.

Courtesy: The Week

But he struck a conciliatory note too. He praised the other candidates, including Liz Kendall, the most right-wing of his rivals, and described her as a friend who stood up for what she believed in. He also welcome new members who had joined the party in order to vote in the leadership contest, 85 per cent of whom voted for him, and invited those who had turned their back on the party to return to the fold.

Much of Corbyn’s speech represented a call for more generous treatment of vulnerable people at home and abroad, including refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

And lending his support to Sadiq Khan, who was yesterday elected as Labour’s candidate for London Mayor, Corbyn said the capital must be able to accommodate people of all economic groups. “I am fed up with the social cleansing of London by the Conservatives,” he said.

Speaking shortly before Corbyn had been announced as the new Labour leader, Khan himself made a plea for party unity.

“Whatever happens over the course of this morning, we must pull together,” he said, “for the sake of everyone in Britain who is struggling to make ends meet.”

That unity may be hard won, as Corbyn has little natural support among Labour MPs at Westminster. Within moments of Corbyn’s victory, the shadow health minister Jamie Reed had resigned from the Labour front bench, citing policy differences. Other resignations are expected to follow.

At the outset of the leadership contest, the Daily Telegraph says, “Mr Corbyn had just 10 of the [35] nominations he needed. Bombarded with tweets and emails from activists demanding a ‘full debate’ through the inclusion of the Left on the ballot paper, more MPs reluctantly caved in and nominated him.”

Odds of 100-1 were offered on a Corbyn win at the beginning of the contest. Tthe same price was available for the return of Tony Blair.

“Nobody,” says the , “at least until his campaign gained what now appears to have been an unstoppable momentum towards victory – thought of him as leadership material, least of all himself.”

This week, Corbyn will face a wide range of challenges. He had been expected to appear on the Andrew Marr show tomorrow, where he would have shared the sofa with Israeli prime minister Bejamin Netanyahu. Corbyn has been a trenchant critic of Israeli policy, and has been accused of associating with anti-semites.

He has now pulled out of that engagement, but he will not be able to avoid his first head-to-head meeting with David Cameron on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions. He may also soon face a vote on military action in Syria, which he opposes, and which many of his MPs support.

Before Corbyn was confirmed as leader, Tom Watson was, as expected, confirmed as deputy leader of the Labour party after three rounds of voting. His nearest rival was Stella Creasy.

He described Labour as “the last line of defence” against the Conservative government. “There is only one Labour, and it’s bigger than its leaders and deputy leaders,” he said. “It’s the guardian of decency and fairness and justice in the United Kingdom.”

He said that the party could be pro-business as well as pro-worker, but he also described the free market as “arbitrary and unfair”.

“To all those Tories sniggering up their sleeves and saying we can’t win in 2020, I say only this,” he said. “Watch this space. Watch your backs”

Corbyn, too,finished his speech with a rallying cry. “Poverty isn’t inevitable,” he said. “Things can, and they will, change.”

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