Who is Jeremy Corbyn?
A 66-year-old far-left MP, Jeremey Corbyn won the Leader of the opposition on 11th September 2015. He won a landslide victory, gaining 59% of the vote via Proportional Representation, this topped Tony Blairs vote of 57% as Labour Leader in 1994.
He has previously worked for two trade unions, the National Union of Public Employees and the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers. He was first elected to Parliament during Margaret Thatcher’s time as prime minister in 1983. However in the last 30 years he stood as a back bencher, being suggested as ‘the most rebellious Labour MP between 1997 and 2010 voting against his party more than 500 times’ due to Blair and Brown creating policies that moved the Labour Party more towards the centre, which he opposed.
His election as Labour leader mirrors a shift in European Politics, as countries such as Greece and Spain also move towards the far left.
What can we expect from the new Labour Party?
As a Democratic Socialist, Corbyn Believes in:
- higher taxation for the wealthiest
- greater public ownership, with railways, utilities and Banks earmarked for renationalisation
- ending the privatisation of the health service
- a new free national education service
- an agenda of “growth not austerity”
The BBC has also reported his opposition to ‘spending cuts and said he would use the Bank of England to pump billions into the economy to boost infrastructure and manufacturing.’
Such policies has gained a lot of support as the public has warmed to his anti-austerity message, with over 15,000 new party members in the last 24hours.
Shadow Cabinet Appointments
Deputy Party Leader: Tom Watson.
Known for strong opposition of the Rupert Murdoch Media Empire.
Shadow Home Secretary:
Used to be Blairite, but shifted political position since the privatisation of the NHS has begun.
Shadow Chancellor- John McDonnell
A strong Ally of Corbyn and has partnered him on making an anti- austerity platform into hard policies that could appeal to the public leading up to the 2020 general election.
Shadow Foreign Secretary- Hillary Benn
Son of Tony Benn a Left-Wing Veteran. He served in the last Labour government as International Development Secretary from 2003 to 2007 and as Environment Secretary from 2007 to 2010. Another strong ally of Mr Corbyn suggesting to the media that he ‘would not push to leave the EU in the referendum promised by 2017.’
Shadow Health Secretary- Heidi Alexander.
Since her appointment she has said ‘The NHS is facing immense challenges and I will do all I can to hold this Government to account.’
Shadow Education Secretary- Lucy Powell
Ed Miliband’s former deputy chief of staff and was vice-chair of Labour’s 2015 General Election campaign. She has also served as shadow minister for education and the cabinet office.
Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary – Vernon Coaker
He has formerly been appointed as the shadow defence secretary
Shadow Justice Secretary – Lord Falconer
Close ally of Tony Blair during his time as Prime Minister and will continue as shadow Justice Secretary, after being appointed by Harriet Harman in May. The former Lord Chancellor had been a spokesman for the party on justice issues since 2010.
Shadow Business Secretary and First Secretary Of State – Angela Eagle
It will be her job to cover the Labour Party business portfolio as well as having Treasury experience to the role. She was previously appointed exchequer secretary under Gordon Brown and shadow chief secretary under Ed Miliband.
Shadow Chief Secretary To The Treasury – Seema Malhotra
She was former special adviser to Harriet Harman and has served as both opposition whip and shadow home office minister, where she worked alongside the then shadow home secretary and defeated leadership hopeful Yvette Cooper.
Shadow Secretary Of State For Scotland – Ian Murray
Ian Murray will continue with the Scotland brief, which he has held since May. He had previously served as shadow business minister.
Shadow Secretary Of State For International Development – Diane Abbott
Ally of Jeremy Corbyn, she was defeated by Sadiq Khan to be Labour’s candidate in the London mayoral race. The first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons, she has been an outspoken critic of many of her own party’s policies over nearly three decades in Parliament. She has also suggested that ‘Mr Corbyn will not seek the UK’s exit from NATO or the European Union but will remain opposed to the renewal of Trident.’
Continuing as Chief Whip-Rosie Winterton.
Reaction from the Labour Party and other politicians
So far Corbyn’s appointments have been seen as controversial, particularly over his appointment of McDonnell, being told it was a ‘big risk’ and could be seen as a “declaration of war” on the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Other leadership candidates such as Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, as well as Ms Creagh, Tristram Hunt, have refused to work in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. Yvette Cooper will, however, chair a new party taskforce on refugees.
Corbyn has received a lot of criticism regarding the lack of female MP’s being appointed in ‘top positions’ with Labour MP’s such as Diana Johnson tweeting, “It is so very disappointing – old fashioned male dominated Labour politics in the top positions in Shadow Cabinet #notforgirls“, while former Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran tweeted that it needed “an urgent rethink.’
In response, the new Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said “For most people the real top jobs are the ones that provide the services like health and education, those sorts of things. So he (Corbyn) has broken with that tradition and I’m really pleased.”
Reaction from Business Leaders
The Institute of Directors Director General Simon Walker said the new Labour Party Policies could “undermine our open and competitive economy” and are cautious about their proposed Nationalisation programme. However he agreed with Corbyn’s view that “wealth creation is a good thing.’
It has also been reported that other business leaders are more interested in the position Labour will take on an EU referendum that Prime Minister David Cameron said would take place before the end of 2017.