In spite of the media’s best attempts, and in spite of the political deceit seeking to derail his immensely popular campaign, Jeremy Corbyn has been elected with a “huge mandate”, dwarfing Andy Burnham (19%), Yvette Cooper (17%), and Liz Kendall (4.5%) with an overwhelming “59.5% of first-preference votes” (from 422,664 votes cast). After the announcement of his victory, Corbyn said: “The media, and many of us, simply didn’t understand the views of young people in our country”. In particular, he stressed, the media had at times been “intrusive, abusive and simply wrong”. Suggesting a big movement was just getting started, he promised Labour would now “reach out to everyone in this country”.
“I want to be your voice”, said Corbyn, as he “invited the public to submit questions to him for Prime Minister’s Questions” by email. At the same time, he made his first public speech as leader at a “huge demonstration in London”, where “over 100,000 people joined a rally to say Refugees Welcome Here”. Later on, he “celebrated his election as Labour leader by launching into an emotional rendition of socialist anthem The Red Flag at his victory party in Westminster”.
- Green MP Caroline Lucas claimed Corbyn’s election was a “real boost for progressive politics”;
- Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said: “we hope to engage Corbyn and the Labour Party in discussions about the urgent need for electoral reform”;
- Ellie Mae O’Hagan at The Independent insisted people progressives should be happy because there was finally “a mainstream political figure” opposed to “cuts to public services”, there would be a “50% female shadow cabinet”, Labour members would “have a better chance of influencing policy”, and left-wing activism would once again enter into “communities across the country”;
- Adam Bienkov at Politics.co.uk claimed that “the scale of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory [was] the final insult to Tony Blair”, and that “the coming weeks and months [were] set to be among the most fascinating in British political history”;
- Agus Wandi, a “peace and conflict adviser with the UN”, asserted that the UK “should follow Jeremy Corbyn’s example and pick up the telephone” to resolve the conflict in Syria;
- Left Unity said Corbyn’s win was “the people’s victory” and argued that it had proved “everything is possible”. The party claimed it was a “momentous opportunity for the people of Britain… to reclaim our society, our resources, our priorities, for the good of all of us”.
One big problem for Corbyn going forward was that the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), criticised by so many during the campaign for being out of touch with the electorate, showed this more clearly than ever as it “overwhelmingly backed other candidates by 210 to 20”. In fact, right-wing figures in the PLP like Kendall, Cooper, Rachel Reeves, Emma Reynolds, and Tristram Hunt said they would not serve in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.
There were, inevitably, also negative reactions in the media. Right-wing Labour commentator Rob Marchant, for example, said “today is our darkest hour – we have become unelectable”.