Can red rebel, Jeremy Corbyn, become the next Labour leader? Here are 10 things you need to know about him

Our rough guide to the party’s most left-wing candidate since 1988

Jeremy Corbyn has managed to do what Tristram Hunt, Chuka Umunna  and Mary Creagh all couldn’t. Yesterday he won the support of at least 35 of his fellow Labour MPs, winning him a spot on the Labour leadership ballot paper.

He scraped through with one vote to spare before voting closed at midday on Monday, to join Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, and Liz Kendall in the race to the front of the opposition benches.

His competition’s positions are relatively well documented. They are all former special advisors (Spads), who’ve long held positions in the party. Andy Burnham is moderately left leaning, while Cooper occupies the middle ground with Blairite Liz Kendall on the right.

But Corbyn comes from a completely different background.

Here’s our rough guide to Jeremy Corbyn

1. He’s been around for a while

Corbyn has been the MP for Islington North since 1983.

2. He is the party’s most left-wing candidate

This is the key to Corbyn. He has a weekly column in the socialist newspaper the Morning Star, and is considered one of the party’s most left-wing politicians. His leadership ambitions mean he will be the “most left-wing candidate to contest such an election since Tony Benn stood against Neil Kinnock in 1988,” according to the New Statesman’s George Eaton.

3. He is not a fan of Trident

“Red Ed” Miliband wouldn’t even attack Trident. Corbyn on the other hand is a senior member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

4. He opposed the Iraq war

All of the other candidates backed the invasion of Iraq in 2005. Corbyn is vehemently anti-war

5. Red Rebel

Corbyn’s voting record is more punk than anything created in 1977. Sid Vicious certainly doesn’t have a document to his name that says “rebel” as many times as Corbyn’s voting record. To Corbyn, a three-line running whip is more an opportunity for masochism than a guide to voting-through legislation. He has defied the whip an incredible 284 times, and that’s only since 2005.

6. He is anti-austerity

Here he again diverges from the other candidates, none of whom have rejected “austerity-lite”. On this issue, he warned last week that another five years of austerity would leave the country’s welfare state unrecognisable and the gap between rich and poor wider than ever.

7. He wants to see the railways re-nationalised

Kendall, Cooper and Burnham don’t want to take the UK’s rail network back into public hands. But that is precisely what Corbyn wants.

8. UKIP is for people who “despair”

“I don’t think that people who vote Ukip are necessarily racist at all,” Corbyn told the Guardian recently. “I think [voting Ukip is] a counsel of despair. And if we’re not offering anything different other than austerity-lite, then what are we really saying?”

9. He wins awards for his rebel beard

Corbyn is five times winner of Parliamentary Beard of the Year.

His beard also won the coveted Beard of the Year award from the Beard Liberation Front – you know, the good old BLF?

In 2001, his beard narrowly beat Rolf Harris’s beard to win the gong.

Corbyn said he considered his beard to be “a form of dissent” against New Labour.

10. He sometimes wears a hat

And here’s a photograph to prove it

Jeremy Corbyn 3

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Readers' comments (2)


  • Just the man Labour needs to champion a popular alternative to the Tories' disastrous simple-minded economic policies and ideologically driven assault on the welfare state. Let's hope he wins.

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  • Great idea. A British version of Alexis Tsipras who can bring the fantasies of Syriza to Labour. That will make for a bigger Tory majority in 2020.

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