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Labour Leader Candidate Generating Controversy

A discussion surrounding Jeremy Corbyn's recent publicity.

Labour Leader Candidate Generating Controversy

Dan Kitwood / Getty - Corbyn wants your vote, but do you want his policies?

Laura Brindley

W!ZARD News Author

From a 200/1 outsider scraping onto the ballot paper at virtually the last minute, to man of the moment and bookies’ favourite - Jeremy Corbyn’s rise has been spectacular, and quite unexpected. But you only have to take one glance at the headlines or on social media to see that his upsurge has been highly controversial, with the Labour party more fragmented than ever before.

The real question is, could a socialist actually become Labour leader in 2015? And if so, would he ever stand a chance of being elected as prime minister?

Tony Blair – generally regarded as the most successful Labour leader in recent history – lamented the surge in support for Corbyn, arguing that his ideals are old fashioned, and no longer suitable or relevant for society today. He went on to state his opinion that the heavy election defeat in May should be used as an opportunity to move forward into a new way of thinking – a way which will appeal to a range of voters – rather than going backwards into the realms of ‘old Labour’.

Corbyn’s fellow leadership contender Liz Kendall, who is seen as a right-of-centre candidate, agreed, stating her belief that a Corbyn victory would be a disaster and would “Turn back to the politics of the 1980s”, a time in which Labour were marred by successive election defeats. However, Lord Prescott - Blair’s former deputy - was highly critical of the former prime minister’s “abusive” language, criticising his sarcastic proclamation that anybody wanting to vote for Corbyn should have a “heart transplant”.

Opposers of Corbyn do seem to focus on the history of the Labour party and the direction in which they believe the party should be heading, but perhaps at the expense of a fundamental discussion of Corbyn’s policies. These include a recent pledge to make half of the Cabinet female and a strong anti-austerity outlook, with a focus instead on reducing tax evasion - particularly by big businesses - and increasing a range of taxes, including corporation tax. It is perfectly valid to disagree with these policies, but it is hard to see quite how somebody who promotes equality, fairness and anti-austerity as much as Corbyn does, could have stirred up so much discontent in a traditionally left-wing party.

Indeed, plenty of his defenders – including the previously mentioned Lord Prescott – do not want him to win the leadership bid. Many of the 35 MPs who nominated him did so because they wanted a fair election, and not because they personally endorsed him.

Finding individuals who agree with Corbyn’s policies outside of the Labour camp is an even trickier task.When considering the Conservatives’ recent success at the general election, it seems clear that the average voter in Britain is far removed from the socialist principles of Jeremy Corbyn.

Rather, some Conservative supporters have even decided to join the Labour party as registered supporters in order to vote for Corbyn, in the hopes that he as leader will make the party unelectable for years to come, and therefore secure the Conservatives’ position.

But with some discontent already emerging following the recent Budget, and austerity set to increase, could a brand new ideal much further to the left be just what this country needs, and perhaps wants? A very large demographic seems to think so, and that is the young people of Britain. 18-24 year olds have grown up through several right-of-centre governments, which included John Major, Tony Blair and more recently, David Cameron.

Jeremy Corbyn is offering something that has never been seen before by the younger generations, and if their support continues, who knows what could happen?

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