Corbyn Becomes Britain's New Labor Leader: What's the Message? | 作者: Zhang Bei | 时间: 2015-09-18 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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Jeremy Corbyn was elected Great Britain's new Labor leader on Saturday. The contest has been one of the most extraordinary in years. Formally perceived as a fringe candidate, Corbyn has sparked "Corbyn-mania" among his supporters, while winning endorsements from unions. He swept aside mainstream figures serving as shadow ministers in Westminster.



Nevertheless, prominent New-Labor figures, like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson had publicly opposed Corbyn's candidacy. The Conservative Party also denounced him. Chancellor George Osborne claimed Corbyn will undo a generation's work of the Labor Party, while Defense Secretary Michael Fallon tweeted that Labor Party members are now a serious risk to UK's (United Kingdom) security.



The 60-year-old MP (member of Parliament) has served in Parliament since 1983. He has always been a back-bencher and active anti-war campaigner. He refused to work with the Blairites (former Prime Minister Tony Blair MP supporter) and is considered a maverick.



He has advocated the re-nationalization of public utilities and railways, opposed austerity, intends to withdraw from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and opposes renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. He also proposed a National Education Service. He represents one of the most Left-wing, anti-establishment leaders.



His supporters believe he is the right person to lead the Labor party to victory in 2020. They see him as a hope to "make it the Labor Party once more".



He seems to be "the only true Labor candidate", with traditional Labor values. He had inspired those who lost faith in Labor during the Blair-Brown years and had fired up young activists with his anti-austerity message.



Yet, there's a strong sentiment that Corbyn would unlikely help Labor win in the 2020 general election.



This latest political development can be seen as a small part of Europe’s political mosaic. At a moment when European right-wing parties are on the rise, left-wing parties are gaining momentum as well.



Especially as austerity hit countries in Europe, left-wing parties are attracting followers. Spain's Podemos Party and Greece's Syriza are two prominent examples.



Despite the UK's strong economy, people don't feel the benefits of economic recovery. Corbyn's success is a message against austerity and lack of public investment.



Moreover, it is a cry of frustration. The thirteen-years reign of Blair and Brown had witnessed Labor steadily marching to the right. It has created Labor’s best days, but spelled crisis afterwards.



The Miliband era failed to provide effective opposition. The Conservatives had endorsed many of Labor's policies whenever they saw fit, while Labor were struggling to offer a genuine alternative.



During the General Election in May, Labor had lost its northern base to the Scottish National Party. Meanwhile, Labor failed to win over the hearts of other UK voters.



Labor has failed by distancing from its traditional policies and could not prove to be a better choice than the Conservatives. It's having a difficult time re-identifying and re-establishing itself.



Will Corbyn be the answer for Labor? Perhaps not, a number of Labor frontbenchers said they would not serve in his shadow cabinet.



Additionally, he must bring the whole party together. Being the opposition leader is difficult already, and being a left-wing opposition leader in a Conservative-led parliament is much more problematic.



Labor's future is by no means clear. The election is a new step of the hundred year old party in its trouble-fraught journey to re-assert and re-shape itself in today’s world.



Is the left-turn approach viable, and will the Blairites stage a "coup" and more importantly will the party be electable after its reforms? All these questions remain unanswered.





Zhang Bei is an assistant research fellow from the Department for European Studies, China Institute of International Studies.





Source:, September 16, 2015.