LEFT TURN AHEAD: A socialist outsider candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, has become leader of Britain’s Labour Party, causing panic among the organization’s moderates and much hand-wringing among Conservatives and business leaders. Corbyn’s victory — he won nearly 60 percent of his party’s vote this weekend — dominated the news on Sunday and triggered calls for a robust fight-back from shocked Labour stalwarts.
The 66-year-old Corbyn is a committed leftist who marked his victory on Saturday in a London pub with supporters, singing the socialist anthem “The Red Flag.” His victory was hailed by the Russia press; Hamas, and Greece’s Syriza party. British newspapers were less enthusiastic, their headlines reading: “Death of New Labour” and “Life Under Corbyn: More Taxes, Debt, and a Toothless Military.”
An anti-austerity disciple, Corbyn believes in rectifying what he calls “the grotesque levels of inequality in our society” by printing more money, raising taxes on businesses, increasing government spending and re-nationalizing the railway system. He has called for the dissolution of NATO, and favors scrapping Britain’s nuclear weapons program.
A member of parliament from the North London neighborhood of Islington and a former trade union organizer (he even did a stint, early in his career, with the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers), Corbyn has spent his political career on the party’s fringes. He counted on the trade unions — and a rush of enthusiasm from British youths disillusioned with Labour’s current policies and with the Tory election victory last May — for his landslide win.
As Labour leader he will now be required to form a “shadow cabinet,” and challenge the new Tory government’s policies. He could become prime minister if Labour were to win the next election in six years’ time.
Peter Mandelson, the Labour politician who was instrumental in crafting the image of New Labour and who served as a cabinet minister under former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, made a thinly veiled call on Sunday for the party to sideline Corbyn — or risk operating on the fringe of politics.
“The danger is that Labour simply decides to muddle through, resigning ourselves to our fate rather than doing anything big enough to alter it,” he said in an op-ed in The Sunday Times of London.
Meanwhile, Michael Fallon, Britain’s defense secretary, sees an even bigger problem with the pro-Russia, pro-Hamas Corbyn: “Labour are now a serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security, and your family’s security. This is a very serious moment for our country,” he told The Sunday Times of London in a front-page story.
Corbyn, however, has most certainly found a fashion-industry ally in at least one of his causes: Antifracking, or the opposition to hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas, due to its environmental impact.
On Friday, Dame Vivienne Westwood was pictured driving a white tank during an antifracking protest. She rode through Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency, and was pictured outside his house in a bid to make a “chemical attack” on his home in Oxfordshire, England.
“Fracking is antilife,” Westwood said in a statement. “Fracked oil and gas in America is sold under cost. It was just an opportunity for investors. Scientists and intellectuals: You know the only solution is a green economy.”