JEREMY CORBYN - FROM ZERO TO HERO?
By Teg Singh
His parents were peace campaigners, who supported the socialist Republic during the Spanish Civil War against Franco. Now, Jeremy Corbyn leads Britain’s strongest voice of the left-wing.
From the historic market town of Chippenham on the banks of the River Avon, Jeremy Corbyn has been representing the soon-to-be dissolved constituency of Islington North since 1983.
Earlier in his career, Corbyn worked in trade unions, as an official for the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers to be precise. At North London Polytechnic, he began a trade union course, however he left after a year without a degree after arguments with tutors.
In 1982, Corbyn was selected as candidate running for the constituency of Islington North. After winning the seat, Corbyn immediately joined a socialist campaign group. He also began to campaign against the apartheid in South Africa and was arrested for rallying outside the High Commission of South Africa.
A lot has been mentioned of Corbyn’s Sinn Fein links, and indeed Corbyn did try to develop links with Sinn Fein’s first MP, Gerry Adams. Furthermore, he was arrested in 1986 for protesting against the imprisonment of the ‘Brighton Bombers’, stating that he was ‘happy to commemorate all those who died fighting for an independent Ireland’. The MI5 had opened a case on Corbyn, as they had feared for ‘national security’ and feared that Corbyn was ‘undermining democracy’.
Corbyn during the Labour government was something of a rebel, continuously being pushed to the backbench as Blair, and then Brown, both strived for a ‘New Labour’, one with more centrist values. Corbyn was the Member of Parliament who voted most against the Labour whip, defying the whip a staggering four hundred and twenty-eight times in the span of thirteen years. He consistently opposed the war in Afghanistan, on the steering committee of the Stop the War Coalition. He helped organise the February anti-Iraq War protest which was claimed to be the largest such protest in British political history.
Corbyn became leader of the Opposition in 2015, and has since been seen as a representative for the lower class fighting against Cameron, and then May governments. In the recent General Election of May 2017, Corbyn’s Labour were seen as weak opposition, trailing the Conservatives by some twenty-five points in opinion polls. However, policies such as scrapping tuition fees and investing in the NHS led to his party gaining grassroots support, and leading there to be a Hung Parliament with no outright majority even though the Conservatives were still the largest party. Labour itself made its highest seat increase since 1945, when Attlee’s Labour had actually won the election.
So what next for Corbyn? With Theresa May’s government becoming increasingly scrutinised, will Britain’s left-wing be seen as the answer – and will we soon be seeing Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street?