Snap Verdict: Jeremy Corbyn elected leader of the Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn
Photograph: stopwar.org.uk via Wikimedia Commons

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In a stunningly convincing victory, the veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn was announced as the next leader of the Labour Party with a vote share of 59.5%.

It marks the end of a remarkable journey for the Islington North MP, who just squeezed over the nominations deadline back in June with only minutes to spare. In his victory speech, Corbyn himself noted that a handful of those MPs had ‘some reluctance’ to endorse him, but that their commitment to inclusion and democracy should be applauded. Though tentatively embraced at the Parliamentary level, Corbyn’s popularity at the grassroots is undeniable; second placed Andy Burnham, who previously announced this would be his last crack at the leadership, received less than a third of Corbyn’s vote share.

As alluded to before in this paper, Corbyn now inherits a party stricken with dissenting voices. Like many victors emerging from a bruising internal campaign, his immediate concern must be party harmony. With Sadiq Khan and Tom Watson at his side as the London Mayoral candidate and Deputy Leader respectively, it will be important for Corbyn to include a Blairite in his shadow cabinet to appease the party’s very disparate factions. Fourth-placed Liz Kendall would have been an ideal fit had she not already ruled herself out of any such position. It would be very surprising, however, if Chuka Umunna was not offered a senior shadow cabinet post, particularly given his involvement in the new party group Labour for the Common Good, dubbed ‘the resistance’.

The left has undoubtedly resurged, but it is surely too premature to start signing off death warrants for the party’s 2020 vision. After internal harmony has been achieved, Corbyn must confront the Conservatives with a united voice on public utilities and constitutional reform, while seizing the opportunity of the European referendum in 2017 which will prove problematic for a Conservative Party divided over the UK’s continued membership.

Comprehensive change has come to the Labour Party and British politics. Whether it is permanent or a mere ‘flash in the pan’, however, remains to be seen.

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