Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of the Labour Party after winning nearly 60 per cent of the vote in one of the most sensational victories in British political history.
The veteran left-wing MP, who started the leadership contest as a 200-1 outsider, was crowned winner of the three-month long contest this morning at a special conference in Westminster.
Mr Corbyn, who only received enough MP’s nominations to get on to the ballot just minutes before the deadline, swept to victory on a tide of support from Labour members.
He defeated former Cabinet members Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, and Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall.
Mr Corbyn won 251,417 votes – 59.5% of all those cast. Mr Burnham came second on 80,462, Ms Cooper third on 71,928, and Ms Kendall finished fourth with 18,857 votes.
The new Labour leader also came top amongst members, registered supporters and affiliated supporters.
Mr Corbyn favours renationalisation of the railways and energy industry, a practically non-interventionist foreign policy and the funding of infrastructure projects through People’s Quantitative Easing, i.e. printing money.
Numerous Labour figures warned against electing the Islington North MP as leader, arguing his views harked back to those put forward by the party in the 1980s when it was kept out of power by Margaret Thatcher.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair told Labour members who were planning to vote with their heart for Mr Corbyn “get a heart transplant.”
His most immediate task is creating a Shadow Cabinet, something which could prove tricky as he is much more popular with party members than his fellow MPs.
Dan Jarvis, the Barnsley MP mooted as a potential leadership runner after Ed Miliband stood down in May, confirmed on Radio 4 last night he would not serve in a Corbyn Shadow Cabinet.
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Ummuna and leadership rivals Ms Cooper and Ms Kendall have also indicated they could not be in the Shadow Cabinet if Mr Corbyn pushes through with the economic policies he espoused during the election campaign.
Long-term Corbyn allies, including Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Jon Trickett, could be in line for high-profile frontbench roles.
An MP since 1983, Mr Corbyn is known for his rebellious nature and his opposition to the Iraq War. He has faced scrutiny for his foreign policy views throughout the leadership campaign, and his relationship with terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA have been called into question.
Mr Corbyn has always maintained his communication with such groups is to try and bring about peaceful resolutions to conflicts through dialogue, not military action.
Credit :- Owen Bennett and Paul Waugh/Huffington Post
The Labour Party has at last had the courage to return into a true opposition party. During the Margaret Thatcher years they abandoned their principles to get re-elected with Tony Blair as leader. What was the point ? David Cameron sees Tony Blair as a role model something wrong there ? Labour needs to bring Back Clause 4 renationalise the the railways and energy industries, and begin standing up again for those the party was formed to represent.
Sexual excess, vomiting games and smashing up restaurants were common when I was at Oxford University. And some of those responsible are now running the country
It’s hard to describe how embarrassing it was at times to be a student at Oxford University in the early nineties.
There you’d be drinking snakebite in the park, when a bunch of toffs in white tails would charge by, fleeing the scene of some dining society crime where they had smashed up a restaurant and urinated out of the windows.
Tales of sexual excess, including animals, general homo-erotic public school ‘larks’, and vomiting games played at these dinners were commonplace.
The ‘Piers Gav’ – where David Cameron is alleged to have taken part in a debauched escapade with a pig – was known for colossal drug taking and orgies on the country estates of students whose parents owned vast mansions.
It wasn’t Brideshead Revisted, it was more like Bridesmaids, the gross-out film, without the feminism.
So what? What did it matter if a bunch of hoorays wanted to snort cocaine off each other’s bottoms, down port from a football boot and pay someone to roll them down the hill in a portaloo?
When I was President of the Student Union of Wadham, one of Oxford’s 38 colleges and six private halls, we banned dining societies.
We knew it was pointless, because they happened in secret and would only enjoy the feeling of being purged by lefties in donkey jackets, but we did it anyway.
One of the reasons was that at the time, many of us were heavily involved in trying to change the university.
Piggy in the middle: David Cameron is at the centre of claims about a debauched Oxford drinking societyAt Wadham, we fought to get rid of wearing ridiculous gowns to do normal things like eat food and go to tutorials.
We won representation on the Governing Body of the college so that they had to change the statutes. We balloted for a rent strike against extortionate rises in rents.
We organised £5 balls that everyone could attend – rather than the university balls that could cost hundreds – with bands like the Verve, and dance trio Sub Sub (now Doves).
We set up an annual LGBT festival that still runs to this day. We tried to take back some of the vast sums of money from the boat club to use on student welfare.
And we got involved in ideas like Target Schools and the Access Scheme, encouraging more state school and black and Asian kids to apply to Oxford and supporting them at interview.
Oxford University isn’t just for toffs, we told them – it’s for you. It’s not a private university, it shouldn’t be owned by public schools.
But even while we were traipsing the country persuading sixth-formers, the ‘dining societies’ were a visual and rowdy signal of the old entrenched Oxford elitism.
You would be showing round a nervous sixth-former from Moss Side when a bunch of tossers would come vomiting round the corner in white tie singing a song about Gollywogs.
David Cameron and Boris Johnson had already left Oxford when I arrived there in 1990, but Gideon (now George) Osborne and the billionaire Nat Rothschild, were both in my year. Osborne’s got his own Bullingdon photo to prove it, hands on hips, slight sneer to the smile.
And because of people like them, even though I was the first person in our immediate family and only the second in our wider family to go to university and I should have felt proud of being at Oxford, I often felt ashamed.
In my university holidays, I either worked doing holiday cover on the features desk at the Oxford Mail or sometimes did ‘scouting’ – working with the staff (generally middle-aged mums and not small boys) employed to clean student rooms.
At the paper, I found myself constantly explaining that I didn’t spend term-time desecrating gravestones in a ball gown.
While scouting, I listened to the tales of smashed up rooms, vomit-strewn carpets, turds in bathtubs, and other ‘hilarious’ japes involving other bodily fluids.
Someone had to clean all this up, and it was these women, long before the minimum wage.
Sometimes the ‘bullers’ would leave them some ‘coinage’ for their troubles.
Most of the scouts found this extremely offensive, preferring they just simply hadn’t used their sink as a toilet.
The only purpose of dining societies – apart from sex and drunkenness – was to foster elitism.
You couldn’t ask to join – you had to be “chosen”. You could only be chosen if you were male and had gone to one of the ‘top five’ (or whatever they decided) public schools.
They spoke in a weird language – talking about barking heads (mad people), subfusc (gowns), debagging (removing someone’s trousers), and “tactical groms” (vomiting champagne cocktails so you could keep on going).
Another favourite was ‘Aegrotat’, taken from the Latin for “he was ill” – a declaration by the University that a student deserved to have passed a failed examination.
This was usually on account of illness, but seemed also to apply if one’s parents happened to have donated a new wing to a library for example.
I particularly remember the Viceroy Club, where members are called the names of former British colonies.
Once in, it seemed you were in some kind of parody of old Empire, under pressure to grope undergraduates’ breasts.
That was in the early nineties, but all the signs are it’s no different now. Last year Tatler counted 46 elite dining societies still in existence.
The same piece noted that the “Oxford University Conservative Association has been mired in scandal, after one female member was told to ‘shush’ because ‘you’re a woman’ during a meeting, which was followed by chants of ‘kitchen, kitchen, kitchen, get back to the kitchen’ and ‘go back to washing the dishes’.”
That was in 2014 – and those people will be the future leaders – mark my words – of the Tory party.
The thing was even back in 1992, these people fully expected to run the country.
We were idealists and meritocrats and we thought they were wrong. Their time was over.
How wrong we were.
Elite dining societies – grown up ones like The Leaders – now fund the Conservative Party.
And their greatest stalwarts – Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Gideon Osborne run the country just as they expected to.
The saddest thing about #piggate is not the vile disrespect shown to a deceased animal.
Hedge fund managers are buying up remote ranches and land in places like New Zealand to flee to in event of wide-spread civil unrest
Super rich hedge fund managers are buying ‘secret boltholes’ where they can hideout in the event of civil uprising against growing inequality, it has been claimed.
Nervous financiers from across the globe have begun purchasing landing strips, homes and land in areas such as New Zealand so they can flee should people rise up.
With growing inequality and riots such as those in London in 2011 and in Ferguson and other parts of the USA last year, many financial leaders fear they could become targets for public fury.
Robert Johnson, president of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, told people at the World Economic Forum in Davos that many hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes.
He said: “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.”
Mr Johnson, said the economic situation could soon become intolerable as even in the richest countries inequality was increasing.
He said: “People need to know there are possibilities for their children – that they will have the same opportunity as anyone else.
“There is a wicked feedback loop. Politicians who get more money tend to use it to get more even money.”
His comments were backed up by Stewart Wallis, executive director of the New Economics Foundation, who when asked about the comments told CNBC Africa: “Getaway cars the airstrips in New Zealand and all that sort of thing, so basically a way to get off. If they can get off, onto another planet, some of them would.”
He added: “I think the rich are worried and they should be worried. I mean inequality, why does it matter?
“Most people have heard the Oxfam statistics that now we’ve got 80, the 80 richest people in the world, having more wealth that the bottom three-point-five billion, and very soon we’ll get a situation where that one percent, one percent of the richest people have more wealth than everybody else, the 99.”
Political language, as George Orwell observed in 1946, is “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”. Seven decades later, consider the way in which mildly progressive political leaders are depicted by their right-wing critics. In the US, Barack Obama, who has bragged about securing “the lowest level of domestic spending” since the 1950s, is condemned as a “socialist” by his Republican opponents. (If only.) In the UK, Ed Miliband, who supports a public-sector pay freeze and wants to slash child benefit, is dismissed as “Red Ed” in the right-wing press. (We wish.) In France, François Hollande, who has presided over the steepest spending cuts in that country in more than 40 years, is deemed to be “anti-austerity”. (Huh?)
Then there is Greece, where Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras, a mild-mannered, tieless civil engineer, was sworn in as prime minister on 26 January. Judging by the hysterical tone of the press coverage, you could be forgiven for assuming that the love child of Karl Marx and Che Guevara had been elected to office in Athens. “Far-left firebrand races to victory”, read a headline in the Times. “Shock waves across Europe as the far left sweeps to power in Greece”, shrieked the Daily Mail.
Syriza, we are told, by everyone from the Mail to the BBC and the Guardian, is a bunch of radicals, revolutionaries and extremists. It’s not centre left; it’s far left. In this bizarre inversion of reality, those who helped to inflict mass unemployment, widespread poverty and public-health emergencies – involving a succession of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics – on a once-developed western country are deemed to be the moderates and the centrists. Is any more evidence needed of how our political debate has become so skewed to the right?
After all, what is “extreme” about providing free electricity and food stamps to 300,000 Greek families now living below the poverty line, as Syriza has pledged to do? What is “revolutionary” about wanting to negotiate a restructuring of ballooning, essentially unpayable debts? Especially after austerity measures demanded by the unelected “Troika” (the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund) led to Greece’s public debt climbing from 126% of GDP in 2009 to over 170 per cent of GDP in 2014. Is it “radical” to describe – as Tsipras has done – five years of relentless, growth-choking austerity, in which the suicide rate rose by 43%, as a period of “humiliation and suffering”? Or to refer to Troika-enforced spending cuts – as Syriza’s Yanis Varoufakis, the new Greek finance minister, did – as a form of “fiscal waterboarding”?
Don’t be distracted by the “far left” smear. Syriza’s programme of debt relief, fiscal stimulus and financial support for the poorest, rather than the richest, is mainstream macroeconomics. The party is merely planning to do what the textbooks suggest.
Don’t take my word for it. On 23 January, two days before the Greek elections, 18 eminent economists, including the Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Christopher Pissarides, the Oxford University professor Simon Wren-Lewis and the former Bank of England interest-rate setter Charles Goodhart, published a joint letter to theFinancial Times endorsing Syriza’s call for debt forgiveness. Economic stability in Greece, they argued, could be “achieved through growth and increased efficiency in tax collection rather than through public expenditure cuts, which have reduced the revenue base and led to an increase in the debt ratio”.
Stiglitz and the others also called for a “further conditional increase in the grace period, so that Greece does not have to service any debt, for example for the next five years and then only if Greece is growing at 3% or more”. They cited the precedent of the “bisque” clause of the 1946 Anglo-American financial agreement, under which the UK was allowed a waiver of 2% interest payment until its economy “met agreed conditions”. As the 18 economists concluded, “the whole of Europe will benefit from Greece being given the chance of a fresh start”.
Remember, the Greeks have not suddenly embraced Marxism. But they have revolted against the insanity of neoliberal economics – and against the extremists in Brussels and Berlin bent on imposing austerity on them. The only real “shock” is that it took so long for this Hellenic backlash against fiscal sadism to commence. On a visit to Athens in 2012, I met Nikitas Kanakis, the director of the Greek branch of the charity Doctors of the World. He described to me in graphic detail how his country was in the midst of a “humanitarian crisis”. “If the people cannot survive with dignity,” he said quietly, “we cannot have a future.”
Will Syriza give them back their dignity? “Hope is here,” declared a victorious Tsipras on 25 January. But time is not on the party’s side and this movement of political novices will have to confront a vast array of vested interests at home and abroad – from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the bean-counters of the Troika to the tax-dodging business elite of Athens and a Greek police force infiltrated by neo-Nazis. It won’t be easy and if Syriza fails, the swing back to the right will be both decisive and disastrous.
A few days ago, I rang Kanakis to see if he was celebrating Syriza’s rise to power. He wasn’t. “What I’m afraid about,” he said, “is that sometimes hope creates illusions.”