Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to stand for the Labour leadership has caused a stir among national newspapers and his popularity among the electorate has fellow party members scrambling to discredit his credibility. But who is Jeremy Corbyn and why is he such a controversial choice for Labour Leader?
Jeremy Corbyn is MP of the Islington North constituency, a seat he has held since 1983. A left leaning politician, he made his name in political circles as a member of Tony Benn’s socialist gatherings in the early 80’s.
If there is one thing to be said about Corbyn, it is that he stands by his principles. He was arrested in South Africa in 1984, for protesting against apartheid outside South Africa House. He is also a long standing supporter of the CND and a vocal force in environmental law.
Corbyn became familiar to many after becoming one of the rebel Labour members who directly opposed Tony Blair’s war on Iraq. He spoke out against the invasion, loudly and clearly and was one of 12 MPs to call for an inquiry into the circumstances that lead the UK to join America in its attack on the Middle East.
But, why are so many young Labour supporters enamored with this unsuspecting man from Wiltshere?
Since Tony Blair introduced New Labour to the political sphere in 1997, Labour has seen a slow and steady slide away from the socialist roots that the party was built from. Fast-forward to 2015 and Labour’s policies are hard to pick apart from Tory promises. Slowly but surely, Labour has left socialism behind, bowing to political pressure to back big business and reign in public spending.
Whilst Corbyn’s New Labour opponents are busy picking apart his socialist background, they all seem to be forgetting what makes him such a popular choice amongst the electorate – his policies.
To some Corbyn’s manifesto reeks of the ill-fated pre ’97 Labour party, but the fact is these policies offer us a clear alternative to the current political choice. We are currently faced with the prospect of another election which will require the electorate to choose between three main political parties, all of which offer vague variations of the same policies. For young voters this is not demonstrating democracy. Instead we seem to be faced with some twisted popularity contest, in which the Leader of our country is decided on whose sound bites can link together to make the best satirical YouTube video.
To young voters Corbyn comes across as a genuine man with a vision which he wholeheartedly believes in. He is a relatable human being, and one that seems so far from the perceived privilege of the Westminster elite. He speaks from honesty and a true belief that we do not have to live in imposed austerity, in order to improve Britain’s economic situation.
Put simply, Jeremy Corbyn offers us an alternative that we have not seen represented in parliament during our lifetime.
Essentially we are faced with the decision between a man that comes across as genuine, with a real belief in policies that could make a major difference to the people within our society that most need it. Or one of the other shades of grey, whose manifestos could quite easily sit under the red, blue or yellow banners.
Whichever way the vote swings in September, it is pretty clear that the Labour party needs to sit up and listen to its young voters. Whilst Corbyn is a popular choice, quantitative easing is a risky policy to introduce and an even harder one to put through parliament. But, it is critical to remember that his popularity stems from what he represents. A future of more relatable politicians, who genuinely listen to the electorate and provide a dramatically alternative vision to what our political system is currently offering.