Veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour party on Saturday in a landslide victory that gives the country its most left-wing political leader in decades.
The 66-year-old, whose policies have been compared to those of Greece’s Syriza and Spain’s Podemos, was named leader after clinching 59.5 percent of the votes cast by Labour supporters.
The new chief could divide Britain’s main opposition party and he immediately faced resignations from the shadow cabinet amid warnings from party grandees that a Corbyn-led Labour would be consigned to electoral oblivion.
In his victory speech to the party faithful, Corbyn slammed Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives for presiding over “grotesque levels of inequality” and for creating “an unfair welfare system”.
As the win was announced in a conference centre in Westminster, supporters chanted “Jez We Can!” while centrist Labour figures looked shell-shocked.
Corbyn later thanked his supporters in a nearby pub, The Sanctuary, where he joined in a rendition of the traditional Labour anthem “The Red Flag”.
In a campaign driven by protest groups and trade unions, Corbyn comfortably beat the more centrist Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall — who all had far stronger support from fellow Labour MPs.
Corbyn has electrified Labour’s leadership race, which was triggered by the resignation of Ed Miliband after he lost May’s general election to Cameron’s centre-right, pro-austerity Conservatives.
His chances at the next 2020 general election are thought to be slim but the Conservative Party was quick to react to his victory with a statement calling him a threat to national security. (Courtesy AFP)