Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Monday, 27 July 2015

Jeremy Corbyn – Your Need-To-Know

Your Need-To-Know On Jeremy Corbyn

The Debrief: He’s polling higher than all the other Labour leadership candidates, so here’s your need-to-know…

In the past few weeks, the Labour leadership contest (they're looking for a replacement for Ed Miliband, tough act to follow etc etc) has propelled Jeremy Corbyn into the lead. He's also said to be popular among young people. So here's your need-to-know on him:

So who’s this Jeremy Corbyn?

He’s a 66-year-old man running to become Labour leader, he’s also MP for North Islington, which is the epicentre of every stereotype about London’s chattering class of champagne socialist lefties.

Why’s everyone banging on about him?

Jeremy is in the lead to become the next Labour leader, with YouGov polling him at 43% to win the contest. The second-best polled is twinkly-eyed Andy Burnham, in at 26%, third is Yvette Cooper, at 20% and fourth is Liz ‘I’m kind of Tory really’ Kendall at 10%.

But polls don’t mean much, do they?

As we all know from the election, which saw the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck at 34% of approval ratings for a good month or so before election day, opinion polls can be wildly misleading. (Just in case you were under a rock after the election, the Conservatives won, big time).

Is there more to it than that?

You bet. As well as a lot of communists, socialists and Marxists joining up to vote in Corbyn (he was the star speaker at #EndAusterityNow’s march in June), there’s something else at play. It’s called entryism; which is the political strategy of joining a party to get something else out of it. In this instance, right-wing newspaper The Telegraph thought it’d be a lol to get their readers to join the Labour party (only £3 to get sent 12 emails a day by earnest Labour candidates!) and then vote Corbyn in.

Why would that be a lol?

The lol is, a lot of influential sorts see Jeremy Corbyn as too left-wing to lead the Labour party to any sort of victory. Ed Miliband faced years of ‘red-Ed’ jibes that got personal. As well as press suggestions his father hated the UK and somehow passed this on to Ed to widespread complaints he only won his leadership contest against his brother, David, because of the support of left-wing unions, and that Labour might be in power right now if his more centrist brother had been at its helm. The idea is that Jeremy, who might even be further left of Ed, will drive Labour into opposition forever and ever and ever. After all, 50% of voters who turned up to the ballots at this year's election voted for the right-of-Labour parties UKIP and the Conservatives.

So how left wing is he?

From maintaining a working relationship with Sinn Fein and its leader, Gerry Adams to getting arrested while campaigning outside the House of Commons against the South African apartheid, he’s got a history of being very right-on. Like, he divorced his wife in 1999 because she wanted to send their son to a grammar school while Jeremy wanted him to go to a state school.

And as an MP how lefty is he?

Also, you know when MPs vote on issues? They’re told by the whip (not as sexy as it sounds) to vote a certain way, so that the party line is united. Well, Jeremy’s voted against the party whip more than 500 times since 2001. Most recently, he was the only Labour party leadership candidate to vote against the Welfare Bill. Labour had advised that MPs abstain from voting on the bill, which will see benefits capped and young people denied access to housing benefit.

Has all of this rebellion got him into trouble?

Not really, but it has made him Labour’s biggest rebel, so for him to now be in the running to be leader has got some people worried, not least Tony Blair. The former Prime Minister said: ‘People who say their heart is with Corbyn, get a transplant.’

But really, is he the answer young people have been looking for?

Jeremy seems to be pretty straight talking e.g. on an LBC radio interview, Jeremy was the only MP in the leadership contest to say that, yes, he’d put Ed Miliband in his cabinet as environmental secretary:

And young people are incredibly keen on Jeremy, at least he said so to Andrew Marr:

‘The entryism that I see is lots of young people who were hitherto not very excited by politics coming in for the first time and saying, yeah, we can have a discussion, we can talk about our debts and our housing problems.

Is there anything else lolsy about him?

A bunch of mums on Netmums recently spoke about how sexy he was, with it seeming like the Milifandom’s given way to a new Corbynite obsession.

And how do the powers-that-be at Labour feel about Jeremy?

Officially, Labour’s keeping schtum on this, but two backbench MPs – Graham Stringer and John Mann – are now calling for the leadership contest to be cancelled and re-set with some more stringent rules in place. Mr Stringer told BBC Radio 4: ‘I am worried that people who do not have the interests of the Labour Party at heart are joining the Labour Party.’ But at the moment things are proceeding.

What about the Conservatives?

According to Buzzfeed, they’re avoiding doing many public appearances or talk shows right now in a bid to make Labour look worse.

Liked this? You might also be interested in: 

Why Has Ed Miliband Grown A Cult Teen Girl Fandom? 

10 Things We've Learnt From The Election Campaign 

Nigel Farage And The Other Losers Of The Election 

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Pure Politics