Jeremy Corbyn the embattled socialist leader of the Labour party has won a major victory in the second battle for leadership of the Labour party. He defeated his more centrist challenger Owen Smith by a margin of 62% to 38%. Corbyn won decisively in all three categories of voters. His margin of victory is greater than his first victory in 2015. Corbyn received 313,209 votes Owen Smith 193,229.Total votes cast 506,438.
These votes were received from three categories of voters .
Full members Corbyn 168,216 Smith 116,960.
Registered supporters Corbyn 84,918 Smith 36,599.
Affiliated supporters Corbyn 60,075 Smith 39,670.
The Labour party eligible voters totalled over 700,000 which is a substantial increase from 2015. Corbyn’s vote total makes him the British politician with the second largest mandate of any UK politician only the mayor of London Sadiq Kahn has had more Britons vote for him directly. So critics of Corbyn who argue he lacks a mandate are quite wrong. He is the second most popular politician in Britain if we judge this by the number of British electors who have voted for him. As such win or lose the next British general election his election as Labour party leader is a very significant event that tells us much about the state of British politics and the extent of the populist rebellion against the conventional wisdom of the political establishment.If the Prime Minister Theresa May who received far fewer votes to become the Conservative party leader is overly aggressive and insulting to Corbyn in Prime Ministers questions she risks offending a large number of British voters. It will be interesting to see how their relationship evolves now that he has a much stronger mandate than before.
If we examine the policy platform on which Corbyn got re-elected there is considerable evidence that the 2008 crash and its aftermath has had a big and lingering impact on British politics and the revival of the left as well as the growing dissatisfaction with centre right Thatcherist influenced Blairism which tended to reject Keynesian intervention as out of date inflationist social engineering. Far better the Blairites argued was to reward entrepreneurial initiatives, promote globalization and move away from the working classes who were dismissed as unfashionable “chavs”.(See Owen Jones, The Demonization of the Working Classes) the credibility of this strategy collapsed as the financial bubble on which it was based imploded . As the rubble has been swept away new shoots of green populism and Keynesian and new socialist thinking have emerged after the long sleep of the past three plus decades. The Brexit vote made it clear that that there were many voices left behind as European integration proceeded. Mostly they lived and worked outside of London and they had benefitted little from the property and financial boom in London associated with European integration.
The vote result which strongly rejected the Remain position was fuelled in part by the resentment felt by these people to Europe and to London.We shall see how Corbyn and his Labour party cope with the complexities and challenges of this issue.The British Conservatives remain profoundly divided by Brexit and their division will yield opportunities to the British Labour party if they can find a way to negotiate their way through the minefields that lie ahead.Labour for its part has strongly rejected austerity as a viable strategy.It has embraced raising the minimum wage to ten £ an hour, embraced infrastructure spending and the establishment of an infrastructure fund, developed a helping professions strategy to help and support the unemployed to find work;advocated abolishing tuition fees in higher education;promised to reinvest in the NHS; promised to fund a housing boom in state assisted housing; embraced a number of green strategies; argued for repositioning British foreign policy away from reigniting the cold war; promoted communitarianism and promised to reduce inequality and embraced multiculturalism as a superior value and strategy to narrow monolithic nationalism. It is an ambitious program that needs more detail but it is a major light illuminating the path toward progress in difficult times.