What has Jeremy Corbyn done? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 16, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:36 AM, June 16, 2017


What has Jeremy Corbyn done?

When Jeremy Corbyn first decided to enter the UK Labour party leadership contest two years ago, he didn't have the support of 35 nominations required to stand.

He notably managed them in the final few minutes before nominations closed. Some of his nominators, including the current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, backed him not because they necessarily supported him, but because they wanted to “broaden the debate”, while some others did so as “a token of gesture”.

His prospect of getting elected seemed so insurmountable that you could get £100 if you bet £1 on him. However, soon afterward, Parliamentarian Labour Party (PLP) realised, to their horror, that some of their mates unwittingly made a grievous mistake by supporting Corbyn for the sake of supporting, because it became clear that Corbyn had the backing of grassroots activists and organisations such as Momentum.

Indeed, the PLP tried, but it proved too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

Despite repeated victories for the post of Labour leader, he has been unpopular among the general voters until recently. His performance against the two PMs – David Cameron and Theresa May – was not highly acclaimed. “He's quiet, reserved, serious, he's not a performer,” observes Professor Noam Chomsky. And you never take a bicycle-riding bearded grandpa seriously.

Yet, this man ended up claiming one of the greatest political feats in British history last week. In the recently concluded general elections, he defied those pundits and commentators who had drawn a foregone conclusion and written him off.

He has cheered up a whole nation awaiting a grim future following its departure from the European Union. With an ambitiously pro-Left manifesto, Corbyn pledged to stand up “for the many, not the few”.

It's a wonder that it took the British public so long to back Jeremy Corbyn, given the fact that they regularly complain of politicians protecting the vested interests of those at the top.

Corbyn's near ascetic lifestyle is legendary. His expenses claims are the lowest for a British MP. Perhaps the most rebellious MP of the British history, he has voted against his own party over 600 times. He has every quality the citizenry could imagine an ideal representative to have.

However, his virtuous political career makes sense of the fact that he has been an outcast within the Labour party and has never placed in the frontline of the Parliament despite having been elected eight times as an MP.

Sky News, a private news TV station, recently compiled some of the speeches he has made throughout his career starting from the 80s. It shows that he has consistently stuck to his steadfast principles.

What has changed, however, during the course of the general election is that Jeremy Corbyn has transformed himself from an introvert activist to a humorous and charming politician.

In 2011, he was a politician urging his small number of followers to push his Facebook page over the 1000 mark. Now, he has millions of followers not only in Britain, but also abroad. His high-profile foreign fans include powerful German Social Democrat Martin Schulz and Bernie Sanders, the famous former US presidential candidate who admittedly ran a similar campaign to Corbyn's.

In the face of Theresa May's robotic phrase – “Strong and Stable Leadership” – Corbyn has given some of the most exhilarating yet natural public speeches and witty responses this election cycle. The public has seen a side of him most people were not familiar with.

When two terrorist attacks took place in the UK, many feared it would benefit the Conservatives – a chauvinistic political ideology notorious for exaggerating and utilising security fears. Yet, he managed to direct, rightfully, the obvious blame towards Theresa May, who had crippled the police while at the helm of the home ministry.

He has been an “almost-ever-present” face at demonstrations and marches and a tireless peace activist. Now he is a politician poised to make it to 10 Downing Street with views similar to those he had held, say, 10 years ago. He did not retract anything; he just managed to make people understand that he has been on the right side of the history all along.

Corbyn has altered the dynamics of British politics. He mobilised an army of youths, who tend to stay out of politics more than their parents did. Now, Sanders is calling on Democrats to follow suit if they want to evict Donald Trump from the White House.

In the face of the upsurge of the dangerous ultra-right populism that arose from discontent among ordinary people fed up with income and wealth inequality, Corbyn and Sanders have offered legitimate and genuine alternatives. Their lifelong commitment to keeping the planet free from nuclear weapons and not getting involved in unnecessary wars abroad, and their willingness to give priority to diplomacy over conflict may prove instrumental in preserving world peace.

It remains to be seen what the duo at both sides of the Atlantic might accomplish once or if they are elected to top office because they are likely to face staggering attacks from the opposite sides of the political spectrum – the far rights as well as the neo-Liberals.

Nazmul Ahasan is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at nazmulahasan@live.com.

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