| A guide to|
|God Save the Queen?|
Jeremy Bernard Corbyn (born 26 May 1949) is a
former Jedi Knight British socialist and old-fashioned Labour Party politician and Prime Minister of Great Britain. Corbyn, who has been the MP for Islington North since 1983, became Leader of the Opposition following a month-long election in 2015. He's done more to increase his party's vote share since Clement Attlee in 1945. Corbyn is fascinating if only for the general hatred directed at him by everyone, from the left to the far-right, and his electoral success in spite of it all.
- 1 Background
- 2 Parliamentary career (1983-2015)
- 3 Leader of the Opposition
- 4 Controversial stances
- 5 Harassment
- 6 Who he's not
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Corbyn was born in southern England to a weather forecaster and a maths teacher, who had met during the Spanish Civil War. Corbyn grew up in socialist youth organisations such as the Wrekin Constituency Young Socialists, and was also a member of the League Against Cruel Sports. After leaving school, he became an official for the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, and later served in the Labour Party as a supporter of Tony Benn during his failed 1981 Labour leadership challenge.
Corbyn rose to a further level of prominence in the early-1980s as an activist, campaigning against the separate 1970s arrests of eleven and six men following a series of pub bombings by the Provisional IRA. It would later be revealed their confessions were forced by torture on the part of the London Met, and they were released from prison in 1989 and 1990, respectively. Alongside this Corbyn has served in anti-war and anti-WMD organisations.
Parliamentary career (1983-2015)
Corbyn is known in the Labour Party for being one of their most rebellious MPs. He is a longtime member of the left-wing party grouping, the Socialist Campaign Group, and voted against the party's whips 238 times between 2005-2010 (equating to 25% of all votes.) Hardly surprising then, that he was kept on the sidelines during Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's New Labour government of 1997-2010.
Leader of the Opposition
Corbyn entered the Labour leadership election in the aftermath of the disastrous 2015 general election as a dark horse candidate, priced at 200-1 for victory by British bookmakers. Campaigning against the New Labour platform of Third Way politics, Corbyn won the election in the first round with 59% of the vote. This is actually a fairly impressive achievement, even by the standards of 59% majorities. The Labour leadership elections run on an instant runoff system, and the last one in 2010 had gone right to the wire, with Ed Miliband beating his brother David Miliband by less than 1% after four rounds of voting. Corbyn, by contrast, thoroughly curbstomped his rivals on first preferences alone, making him far and away the membership's most desired candidate.
However, the election was not without problems, some members of the Conservative Party voted for and encouraged others to vote for Corbyn under the belief his victory would eliminate Labour as a political threat. Alongside this were complaints from a handful of trade unionists, who found they were banned from voting due to their hard-left ties (ironic given Labour's origins as a trade unionist party). Ironically, after all of the panic about "entryists" and Tory chancers it turned out that even if the election had only polled full members of the party, Corbyn would have won as he got just under 50% of the vote in this group alone, albeit probably having to go to a second round of voting first.
Actions once in power
- The appointment of left-wing Guardian columnist Seumas Milne as his communications director induced a frenzy of "OMG! OMG! OMG!" among the right as well as collective pearl-clutching from Serious People on the Responsible Left.
- In October 2015, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UK denounced Corbyn for his leading role in skuttling a trade deal with Riyadh. The move is widely perceived to have resulted from Corbyn's lobbying against the beheading and crucifixion Saudi Arabia imposed on a Shia protester, who was seventeen years old when he protested against the ruling Bin Saud family. Ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is angry about attacks from Corbyn and others on the human rights record of his country. The UK is a strong ally of Saudi Arabia and both the UK Government and a compliant media – especially the BBC – typically
avoid like the proverbial plaguestay quiet about the Saudi's human rights abominations.
- Corbyn appointed Seumas Milne the party's
spin doctorDirector of Strategy and Communication. Milne has been strongly criticised in the past for views which have included apologetics for Stalinism, that NATO should be tried for crimes against Libya, describing Iraqis who helped the United States try to rebuild their country as "quislings", and other stances which will only add fire to the British press hysterics about "Red Jezza". Even some who really ought to approve of Milne (The New Statesman, for example) seem to have issues dealing with this appointment.
- He reached his first true victory by forcing George Osborne to back away from his £4,000,000,000 cut in benefits, which would've robbed 3,000,000 families of an average £1,300 a year. Even Osborne's fellow Tories felt he was too cruel. Unfortunately, Osborne, being Osborne, will replace the tax credits with Universal Credit, which means he'll get his billions in benefits cut anyway, just under another name.
- To prevent the right-wing from breaking with the party, Corbyn authorised a free vote on airstrikes in Syria within his party, allowing over 60 Labour MPs vote in lockstep with the Tories and ignite the war drive; although Corbyn himself and much of his Shadow Cabinet voted against bombing the country. Seven Tories including former Conservative Party Chairman David Davis, also voted against airstrikes at Syria.
- The first real test of Corbyn's electoral popularity was a by-election in December 2015 at Oldham in England's northwest. Labour won the election with an increased share of the vote. This was despite the British media widely predicting a disaster for Labour, "because Corbyn".
Corb Your Enthusiasm
Corbyn, who did a lot of campaigning for Remain, all-too-correctly gauged the opinion of the British public: lukewarm support either way. 63% of Labour voters chose Remain, while the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon ran a high-profile Remain campaign, and 64% of SNP voters said they'd vote to Remain. The Leave campaign appealed massively to the poor, and that should have been Corbyn's bag.
It's fair to say JC wasn't too unhappy with the result: He believes in public ownership, and has said in the past that this is contrary to the EU's ambitions. But instead of actually taking advantage of the biggest opportunity to lay into the Tories in decades, Labour choose that moment to overthrow their leader? It's one thing for a few 'high-fliers' in the party to stab him in the neck, but 172 MPs voted against him. There are also a disturbing number of councillors who reported that they came under pressure to drop Corbyn or convince him to step down. Some who were listed on letters of No Confidence have since claimed that they were never aware of a letter or that they never agreed to sign it.
Cards on the table: There is a reason why Labour was unelectable during the 1980s under Thatcher, and why Blair moved the party to the centre. Let the Tories occupy the centre and they will win landslide after landslide. But it seems like no centrist leader can take power in this climate. It will either be a shift to the left or the right. The fact that people who are demonstrably unelectable – David Miliband, Ed Balls and Neil Kinnock to name but a few – keep telling the party that Corbyn is unelectable seems disingenuous, at least. It also turns out when party pariahs such as Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair tell Corbyn supporters to get a heart transplant, it doesn't work out well. Who knew? However, when all other politicians seem to be crumbling under the referendum, and despite having journalists camped outside his house 24/7 and a questionable campaign of negativity against him, the fact he is still leader is pretty remarkable.
It's arguably a moot point, anyway; the party can't survive the installation of a right-wing candidate against the will of its members. Another plus point for Corbyn is that he seems to attract the youth vote. There's many more young people than old in the UK, but you wouldn't believe it from the votes.
June is the End of May
Conservative PM Theresa May made the miscalculation of calling a snap election for June 2017. In an election result that shocked everybody, Labour gained 31 seats, most of which were from Conservatives in seats that were deep-blue for decades, and in one case, centuries. The youth turned out to vote in record numbers, and on the back of a progressive manifesto (including renationalisation and tuition fees being frozen for instance), Corbyn's Labour Party denied a majority for Theresa May, giving her and the Tories the most humiliating pyrrhic victory in modern times; May was up by 24 points and called for a snap election to increase her majority, but ended up losing it.
Labour's 9.6% vote swing was its largest swing since 1945, when (who else?) Clement Attlee formed the first majority Labour government. This was the closest result in vote share between the two main parties since the February 1974 general election, and the highest vote share for an opposition party since the 1970 general election. Labour achieved its greatest share of the vote since 2001, and made a net gain of seats for the first time since 1997. Now, even the Blairites, or at least the Corbyn-skeptic liberals, are falling in line behind their leader. In July 2017, polls showed Corbyn's Labour with an eight-point lead over May’s Conservatives.
Referring to Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn is an absolutely reliable way to wind up Tories and Kippers on Twitter.
Corbyn has stated that the militantly anti-Zionist and arguably anti-semitic organizations Hezbollah and Hamas must be engaged if the peace process in the Middle East is to move forward. In one particularly misguided statement (which he later walked back from), he used the term "friends" when discussing Hezbollah and Hamas; his justification (as he said in a particularly heated discussion with Krishnan Guru-Murthy from Channel 4 News) for using that term was that he was using in a collective sense, and that he wanted these organisations to be a part of the debate on the Middle East in Parliament. He has also been supportive of – and attended – al Quds day rallies, which many Israel-activists claim support antisemitism, incitement to racial hatred and support of terrorist organisations. On the other hand, many Arab activists see al-Quds Day - which has been held annually since 1979 when Ayatollah Khomeini declared the first al Quds day in Tehran - as a worldwide event in support of Arab rights in Jerusalem. During this event in 2012, Corbyn was photographed standing in front of a Hezbollah flag (a major PR blunder, to say the least) – the person who took the photograph was (and is) a supporter of Corbyn's who refused to sell his picture to the press and says it was "unfortunate" the photo was taken in front of the flag. Corbyn has also appeared on Iranian state network Press TV regarding the Gaza flotilla raid, in place of George Galloway. He has appeared on the channel five times in the years 2009–12, his final appearance being six weeks after the station had its broadcasting licence revoked by Ofcom by airing the forced confession of Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari and received a fee of up to £5,000 for his appearances.
Anne Applebaum, an American journalist and Pulitzer Prize–winning author, has described Corbyn as the latest "in a long line of [Russia's] useful idiots." The reasons for this include the following:
- Corbyn controversially advocated that evidence of rebel responsibility for the use of sarin gas in Syria was stronger than evidence the Syrian government (who are allied with Russia) were the perpetrators.
- He has also blamed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine on NATO's expansion eastward. While he has stated that "I am not an admirer or supporter of Putin's foreign policy, or of Russian or anybody else's expansion". He also suggested NATO should agree not to include Ukraine as a member state in exchange for Putin removing his troops. Corbyn's views on NATO's expansion are similar to those of Harvard professor Stephen Walt.
- Corbyn has said he would rather the UK were not a member of NATO. He has suggested closing it down and said it should have been disbanded in 1990. He is the first Labour leader to not support the military alliance. Ben Judah stated that taking the UK out of NATO would "pointlessly destabilise Europe" and strengthen Russia.
- He is consistently opposed to military interventions on principle. He was the chair of the Stop the War Coalition from 2011 until his election as Labour leader in September 2015, and continues to support the group. Stop the War has refused to criticise Russia, supports their point of view, and consistently blames the West for Russian aggression.
- Corbyn supports and recommends the Russian propaganda outlet RT. He has also appeared as a guest on RT.
Moar controversial stances
- Although he takes many admirable pro-science positions — in particular, unlike his brother Piers Corbyn he accepts global warming as a real and serious problem — his and his political allies' stance on homeopathy is dangerously close to dog whistles like "needs more study" or "haven't looked into it, but it sounds promising".
- Corbyn is against Trident (Britain's nuclear deterrent) and wants to scrap it. He has also said that if he were Prime Minister he would not press the nuclear button. However, there is a good case to be made that any nuclear strike in the modern world would most definitely not be the last, and that being the first person to hit the nuclear button doesn't do much except make the other nation want to retaliate.
- In August 2015, Corbyn received criticism in relation to the idea of women-only train carriages, despite him never outright advocating for the idea as a concrete policy. He only said he would "consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome."
- In November 2016, he praised the achievements of the recently deceased former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Corbyn said "he will be remembered both as an internationalist and a champion of social justice." He highlighted Castro's achievements such as "building a world class health and education system." He did somewhat acknowledge Castro's flaws by saying "there were problems and there are problems of excesses by all regimes" but failed to mention the systematic human rights abuses of the Cuban government. Corbyn has also been a long-time supporter of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.
- After years of pointedly going tieless, he sold out and started wearing one once he got the leader's job. Boo! Hiss!
“”But Mr Corbyn appeared bemused as he was led across the grass, and on being handed the microphone he started speaking while facing away from the cameraman. The ludicrous situation was only remedied when a desperate aide leapt into shot and pulled him round to address the TV crew. Labour has been trying to make a virtue of Mr Corbyn's ham-fisted presentation — saying the amateurishness shows he is authentic.
|—Corbyn speaking towards the audience rather than the cameras, as reported by the Mail|
Regardless of one's politics, the smear campaign against him is pretty hilarious. While Corbyn has stayed largely-silent as Labour leader (unless it's during Question Time, when he cuts David Cameron into fish food), The Scum, Times, Mail and Telegraph are in a total panic over Corbyn:
- being an Al-Qaeda supporter (two can play at that game)
- having a great great grandfather who was a 'despotic' master of a workhouse
- silently munching noodles at Labour meetings (no, not The Onion)
- not singing the national anthem (She ain't no human being!), but still attending a memorial and standing up
- riding a "Mao-style bicycle" wherever possible
- growing his own fruit and vegetables on an allotment (a plot of public land made available for individual gardening or growing of farm produce), even more proof of his collectivist sympathies
- his refusal to bow deeply enough at the cenotaph for Remembrance Day, followed by doing a merry "dance". They knew it was libel. They knew it wouldn't pass muster and would have to be retracted. They weighed the options and posted it anyway, quickly removing the story after enough people saw it and confirmed their biases. At least we got one of the finest gifs of 2016 out of it.
It seems to have permeated the BBC as well. Less than a week into his leadership, they aired a piece on Corbyn's pick for Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell. In the two-minute piece, they played a clip of McDonnell saying "assassinate Thatcher" and his suspension from the House of Commons while waving around a mace. The reason he was suspended is because he opposed the third runway at Heathrow and the displacement of people from their family homes/jobs. Looks like future of Britain's "free press" is weirdly... American.
A whistleblower who had worked for the UK's Metropolitan Police revealed that Corbyn and nine other Labour MPs had been targets of surveillance and the compilation of dossiers on their political activities. Corbyn has responded:
I am a democratically elected person and it turns out I was put under surveillance for a long time because I campaigned on human rights issues and was involved in justice campaigns...At the Metropolitan Police somebody authorised this and I want to know who.
Who he's not
Not Jeremy Corbyn. But close.
Also not Jeremy Corbyn, and his beard puts Jez's to shame.
Jeremy Corbyn, according to the Times, a once-respectable newspaper (and they do share a sinister like of bicycles).
- NewsThump would like to reliably inform you that Rupert Murdoch travels in a "Jimmy Savile-style car"
- Sam Haysom, "People Can't Stop Comparing Labour's New Leader to Obi-Wan Kenobi"
- Batchelor, Tom, "Election 2017: Record number of people register to vote on deadline day", Independent 8 July 2017.
- "Voting Record for Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North (10133)". The Public Whip. 2015.
- Jeremy as 200–1 outsider:
- Joe Watts, Ramzy Alwakeel. "Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn storms to victory with nearly 60 per cent of first preference vote" Evening Standard. Saturday 12 September 2015 11:43 BST;
- "Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership contest and vows 'fightback'" BBC News. Saturday 12 September 2015;
- Tom Porter. "Jeremy Corbyn sweeps to landslide victory in Labour leadership contest" International Business Times. Saturday 12 September 2015 11:57 BST.
- Labour leadership race: Tories back Jeremy Corbyn in bid to damage party
- Rowena Mason, "Labour bans trade union head from voting in leadership election", The Guardian, Tuesday 25 August 2015
- "Saudi ambassador says Jeremy Corbyn 'lacks respect'". Daily Telegraph. 25 October 2015.
- "Hostile BBC Interview of a Saudi Loyalist Shows Prime Journalistic Duty: Scrutiny of One’s Own Side". The Intercept.
- "I wanted to believe in Jeremy Corbyn. But I can't believe in Seumas Milne". New Statesman.
- Gordon Rayner, "Jeremy Corbyn's millionaire spin doctor Seumas Milne sent his children to top grammar schools", Daily Telegraph, Friday 23 October 2015.
- Kevin Maguire. "Autumn Statement 2015: Jeremy Corbyn earns a famous victory in Tory tax credit cuts U-turn". Mirror.
- Patrick Butler. "Tory MPs cheer George Osborne's climbdown on tax credit cuts". The Guardian.
- Andrew Sparrow. "Labour's Jim McMahon wins Oldham byelection - as it happened". The Guardian.
- Heather Stewart and Anushka Asthana, "Jeremy Corbyn to urge 'warts and all' backing of European Union", Guardian (4/14/16 03.52 EDT). i.e. he didn't excite the press with wild hyperbole and outright lies.
- How the UK voted and why, Lord Ashcroft Polls, 24 June 2016
- Nicholas Cecil and Joe Murphy "Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn cronies blamed for sabotaging Labour’s Remain bid", Evening Standard 6.30.16.
- "EU referendum: Most London boroughs vote to remain", BBC 6.24.16. If Margaret Hodge - who submitted the no confidence vote - looked at her own constituency she would see it voted 62% for Leave.
- Foster, Alice, "Corbyn’s Eurosceptic past: What did he say before?" Daily Express (Updated 6/2/16 at 6:37 pm).
- McSmith, Andy, "Jeremy Corbyn supporter taunts Labour MPs over failed leadership coup", Independent 7.2.16..
- Eaton, James, "Jeremy Corbyn faces no confidence motion and leadership challenge", New Statesman 6.24.16.
- Elkes, Neil, "'I didn't call for Corbyn to go' says Birmingham councillor named on Labour website", Birmingham Mail (Updated 7/1/16 at 5:08 pm).
- Hopper, Joshua (1 December 2016). "Corbyn doesn't need "electability" lessons from Ed Balls". Revolitics.
- "Jeremy Corbyn wins vote on Labour leadership rules", BBC 7.12.16. The world's worst coup continues!
- Mortimer, Caroline, "Fury as new members barred from voting in fresh Labour leadership contest by NEC", Independent 7.12.16. 100,000 new members getting involved in politics shouldn't be told to get stuffed.
- "I wanted Hamas to be part of the debate", Channel 4 News.
- Jeremy Corbyn on Hamas and Hezbollah
- Corbyn at odds with leadership rivals over Israel boycott at hustings, Jewish News Online.
- Selda, Hada. Islamic Human Rights Commission & Al Quds Day: Tip of the UK's Iranian support network iceberg, UK Media Watch (formerly CiF Watch) 14 August 2012
- What is Al Quds Day? Islamic Human Rights Commission (20 June 2015)
- "Name your Price": No, says Photographer to Agency Preparing to use Corbyn Photograph out of Context, 14 September 2015
- Press TV-Comment with Jeremy Corbyn-06-03-2010 (Part1), via Press TV's official YouTube channel.
- Payne, Adam. "Jeremy Corbyn was paid by an Iranian state TV station that was complicit in the forced confession of a tortured journalist". (2 July 2016). Business Insider.
- Is Jeremy Corbyn Putin's latest 'useful idiot' in Europe?, International Business Times, 12 August 2015
- "Hard evidence of chemical weapons use 'does not solve Syrian issue'", RT - Interview with Jeremy Corbyn, 11 July 2013
- Nicholas Watt, "Jeremy Corbyn: 'We are not doing celebrity, personality or abusive politics - this is about hope'", The Guardian, Friday 7 August 2015
- House of Commons Hansard Debates for 10 Feb 2015 (pt 0001)
- Watt, Nicholas (7 August 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn: 'We are not doing celebrity, personality or abusive politics – this is about hope'". The Guardian.
- Jeremy Corbyn: “I think we have to think in terms of the disillusioned who didn’t vote” The New Statesman, 29 July 2015
- Jeremy Corbyn's Nato stance is a first for a Labour leader, The New Statesman, 19 August 2016
- Nato underwrites the stability of the EU. Corbyn's plan to pull the UK out of it would be disastrous, The Independent, 20 August 2015
- NATO, refugees, Brexit: Newly-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in best RT interviews and more Russia Today, 12 September 2015
- The impact of Jeremy Corbyn's foreign policy, BBC, 13 October 2015
- Nisbet, Robert (19 September 2015). "Corbyn Quits Anti-War Group After Queen Poem". Sky News. http://news.sky.com/story/1555714/corbyn-quits-anti-war-group-after-queen-poem. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
- Stop the War Coalition. "Jeremy Corbyn: Why I'm standing down as Chair of Stop the War Coalition". http://www.stopwar.org.uk/news/jeremy-corbyn-statement-to-the-stop-the-war-conference-19-september-2015.
- If Stop The War wants peace, why does it indulge Russia's wars?, The New Statesman, 12 October 2016
- Stop The War Coalition Deputy Chris Nineham On Today Programme Calls For ‘Opposing The West’, The Huffington Post, 12 October 2016
- The Stop the War Coalition is more interested in fighting the West than fighting for Syrians, The Independent, 10 December 2016
- Journalism mixes with spin on Russia Today: critics, CBC
- Jeremy Corbyn: Where he stands on science and medicine
- "Jeremy Corbyn row after 'I'd not fire nuclear weapons' comment", BBC News, Wednesday 30 September 2015
- Jeremy Corbyn sparks women-only train carriage row, BBC, 26 August 2015
- Jeremy Corbyn raises possibility of women-only train carriages, The Guardian, 26 August 2015
- Fidel Castro: Jeremy Corbyn praises 'huge figure', BBC, 26 November 2016
- Jeremy Corbyn praises "champion of social justice" Fidel Castro, The New Statesman, 26 November 2016
- "Cuba's repressive machinery". Human Rights Watch. 1999. https://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/1999/cuba/Cuba996-01.htm#P348_12349.
- "World Report 2009: Cuba". Human Rights Watch. 2009. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2009/country-chapters/cuba.
- Jeremy Corbyn Responds To Leadership Challenge And Theresa May Becoming PM By Going To Cuban Solidarity Event The Huffington Post, 11 July 2016
- Tapsfield, James, "Yoo hoo, Jeremy, we're over here! Confused Corbyn has a Michael Foot moment as he starts giving election speech with his BACK to TV camera... before being turned round by aides", Daily Mail (Updated 27 April 2017, 8:38pm EDT).
- "Jeremy Corbyn said Osama bin Laden should have been tried, not killed", Guardian (8/30/15 at 8:48 PM EDT).
- Rai, Shirin, "Why Corbyn’s silent stand through the anthem is a matter of national importance", The Conversation (9/16/15 at 1:24pm EDT).
- His 'Chairman Mao-like bicycle': Right-wing press loses the plot as Jeremy Corbyn hits out at 'poverty deniers'
- He doesn't, he owns a Trek 721 Multitrack, a rather boring American hybrid. (What?! Imperialist scum!)
- Who is Jeremy Corbyn?
- See , , , , , , , , , , , .
- Pontsford, Dominic, "Sun and Mail Online both take down stories claiming Jeremy Corbyn was 'dancing a jig' on way to Cenotaph", PressGazette 11.14.16.
- "Jeremy Corbyn unveils 'unifying' shadow cabinet team", BBC 9.14.15. Pandering more to the government to avoid cuts? Perish the thought.
- Rob Evans, "Police facing questions over covert monitoring of Jeremy Corbyn and other MPx", The Guardian, Friday 2 October 2015