Jeremy Corbyn has put himself forward for Labour leadership, and won the required 35 nominations, hence will be appearing on the ballot paper. The 66 year old MP for Islington has a track record of rebelling against the party on various issues, and hence, seems an unlikely candidate to be Leader – especially after the party has been condemned by some current and former members for a ‘surge to the left’, which some have suggested as a reason for poor electoral performance at the last General Election.
Yet Corbyn seems to be enjoying increasing popularity – especially having gained a small number of supporters since Mary Creagh dropped out of the leadership race. Senior Labour politicians such as Lord Prescott and Frank Field also urged MPs to nominate Corbyn even if they did not agree with his views.
Corbyn is regarded by many as the most left wing of all the candidates to have entered the leadership race so far, having written an open letter to Ed Miliband urging him to oppose austerity. On Sunday he said that the Labour Party had lost its way and must return to being more of a social movement:
Our party must become a social movement again. We were founded to stand up to injustice, and too often we have lost our way, sidelined our supporters or been cowed by powerful commercial interests and the press.
Some of the other leadership campaigns are thought to have ‘loaned’ Corbyn some voted in order to pass the required threshold of 35 MPs to be included on the ballot paper. This is despite his insistence that he does not want votes for charity. In an interview with Total Politics Corbyn stated:
I’m not particularly into charity nominations. I want to see a proper debate within the party. Essentially there’s going to be that debate anyway because there are many in the party, and many members who joined the party, because they want to something different. So that debate’s going to happen and I will certainly be part of that debate whatever the outcome. I want people to choose of their own volition, I don’t want charity.
However, a poll of the readers of political blog LabourList has suggested that Corbyn is the most popular candidate to become Labour leader, with 47% of those surveyed supporting him compared to 13% for Andy Burnham and 11% for Liz Kendall. There has also been a strong online and social media campaign in support of Corbyn, with #jeremy4leader trending on Twitter
I back #jeremy4leader because I want real debate, a living wage, tax justice, alternative to austerity. And he's got an award winning beard.
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) June 13, 2015
Jeremy Corbyn is the only potential Labour leader who doesn't have me reaching for the remote control to see what else is on. #jeremy4leader
— Tom Delargy (@derekrootboy) June 14, 2015
In an interesting turn of events Conservative party members have also shown Support for Corbyn’s leadership bid. Taking advantage of an offer which allows anyone to sign up as a registered Labour supporter and vote in the leadership contest, the Twitter campaign #ToriesForCorbyn encourages Conservatives to vote for Corbyn in the belief it would wipe out the party’s popularity and secure an electoral victory for the Conservatives in 2020.
— Tom Hulme (@Thatcherite4) June 17, 2015
The veteran MP was also branded as a ‘terrorist loving leftie’ by an article in The Sun, which pointed out the fact he had invited suspected IRA bombers to the Houses of Parliament for a meeting during the Northern Ireland troubles of the 1980s. It also highlighted the fact that more recently, Corbyn had invited the band Hamas and Hezbollah groups to speak in parliament.