Tuesday

18th May 2021

Hard-left Corbyn wins Labour vote in UK

  • Corbyn (c) at anti-Gaza war rally last year (Photo: The Weekly Bull)

Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour leader, criticised austerity and urged Europe to do more for refugees in his victory speech.

The hard-left politician won by a landslide 59 percent in a party vote on Saturday (12 September).

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He replaces Ed Miliband, a centrist, who stepped down after losing national elections to the centre-right Tory party in May.

Corbyn told the Labour conference the Tories “used” the 2008 financial crisis “to impose a terrible burden on the poorest people of this country” by cutting public sector jobs and wages.

“It’s not right. It’s not necessary, and it’s going to change”, he said.

He championed free healthcare, free education, an end to homelessness, and the fight against climate change, while extoling the importance of trade unions.

“We are a party organically linked with the unions … this is where we get our strength from”, he said.

He also attacked British foreign and trade policy, saying, the UK, which invaded Iraq in 2003, has contributed to the refugee crisis and to “grotesque levels of inequality” around the world.

“Going to war creates a legacy of bitterness”, he said.

He said his first act as Labour leader will be to attend a pro-migrant march in London, which is taking place on Saturday and is expected to attract tens of thousands of people.

Similar rallies are being held in Athens, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Madrid, Vienna, Warsaw, and in French cities this weekend.

“It’s quite incredible the way the mood in Europe has changed to understand that people fleeing from wars are the victims of wars … they’re in desperate trouble, trying to get to a place of safety, trying to exercise their refugee rights”, Corbyn said.

“Let’s deal with the refugee crisis with humanity”.

For his part, Tom Watson, the new Labour deputy leader, pledged support for Corbyn, whom some Labour grandees had warned will split the party.

Watson also said there’s “no contradiction” in being pro-worker and pro-business.

The Labour result is part of a left-wing surge in parts of Europe.

The far-left Syriza party in Greece will contest snap elections next week. The Podemos party in Spain will fight elections before 20 December.

The next British election is due in 2020. But the UK will hold an in/out EU referendum by 2017.

Corbyn, in the last UK referendum on Europe in 1975, voted No to British membership. But he's yet to say explicitly whether he'll back the Remain or Leave vote this time round.

Refugees

His pro-refugee remarks come as Germany expects 40,000 people to arrive this weekend alone.

The UK has said it'll take 20,000. But it declined to join an EU programme to resettle 160,000 people from Greece, Hungary, and Italy.

Corbyn's remarks also come amid a hardening stance by some eastern and nordic EU states.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian PM, on Saturday told German tabloid Bild that Syrian refugees from camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey should be treated as economic migrants because they’re no longer in harm's way.

"They're not fleeing danger - they’ve already fled and shouldn't fear for their lives”, he said.

He said they're moving to the EU not "because they seek safety, but because they want a better life than in a camp. They want a German life, perhaps a Swedish life".

“There is no fundamental right to a better life, only a right to security and human dignity".

Orban also called for the EU to pay Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey €3 billion to improve the camps so that people stay.

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