Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour party with 251,417 votes (59.5%) in the first round of voting while Tom Watson has been elected as deputy leader with 50.7% in the third round of votes. For full results of the Labour leadership election, see here.
The decisive nature of Corbyn’s victory and the selection of a relatively left wing deputy leader alongside him is an earthquake to the Labour party and the whole of UK politics. It gives both men a considerable mandate to redirect the Labour party as a progressive, anti-austerity alternative to the neoliberal agenda of the Conservatives.
Corbyn will naturally face resistance from the entrenched centre-right wing of the Labour party which commands the loyalty of most MPs due to the selection processes favoured during the New Labour years. Indeed, the resistance has already started as Shadow health secretary Jaimie Reed resigned his position in the shadow cabinet immediately after the result of the leadership election was announced.
However with such a decisive result, the Labour party must respect the democratic will of its membership and supporters and rally behind Corbyn, presenting a united front in support of his policies and in opposition to the Conservatives.
Corbyn’s first task will be in constructing his Shadow Cabinet, with many established Labour figures having supposedly stated they will not serve under his leadership and the eventual composition of that Shadow Cabinet will be a significant weathervane as to how Labour will proceed.
It is undoubted that Corbyn is inexperienced in front line politics, having been a career backbencher, constituency MP and activist over duration of his lengthy political career and it would be advantageous to have a little more front bench experience alongside him. That said, Corbyn won the leadership on the basis of his honesty, passion and good old fashioned Labour policies, in direct contrast to the ‘greater experience’ and slick presentation of the other candidates.
Perhaps Labour and indeed, Britain as a whole is ready for a change in style and substance from our politicians. Jeremy Corbyn offers a chance at that change and has been handed the mandate to at least attempt it.
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