Jeremy Corbyn after being elected leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Saturday.
By STEPHEN CASTLE
September 12, 2015
LONDON – Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Saturday took a remarkable leftward turn, electing as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, a longtime socialist committed to nationalizing key industries, scrapping Britain’s nuclear missile system and reversing the centrist policies of previous leaders such as Tony Blair.
The result of the contest, announced on Saturday morning in London, gave stewardship of the Labour party to the hard left for the first time in more than three decades, a development seen here as one of the most surprising upsets in modern British politics.
As Europe continues to feel the aftershocks of the financial crisis of 2008, voters have been increasingly attracted to the political extremes, with support growing both for socialist parties on the left and nationalist ones on the right. The Labour leadership result could now shift the main opposition party in Britain closer to the types of positions taken by other leftist parties that have become prominent across Europe, including Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.
Mr. Corbyn, 66, has been a lawmaker for more than three decades but never served in government, preferring to campaign, often for unfashionable causes, and frequently rebelling against the party line.
He only made it into the contest at the last minute, gaining the 35 nominations he needed from fellow lawmakers, thanks to the support of some colleagues who did not support him but thought he should take part.
Yet his program, which includes nationalizing energy and rail companies, printing money to boost the economy and scrapping Britain’s Trident nuclear missile system, has struck a chord with many activists and new, often young supporters.
Crucially, he took advantage of a rule change that allowed candidates to recruit sympathizers who, for a small fee, could sign up as registered supporters of the Labour Party and gain a vote in the contest.
Much like Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who has ignited liberal passions in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States, Mr. Corbyn is promising radical approaches to longstanding problems.
As Labour leader, Mr. Corbyn will be some way from power, but his views could influence policy, particularly on foreign affairs. Mr. Cameron, for example, wants to know the position of the new Labour leader before asking Parliament to …Read More