Jeremy Corbyn re-elected as leader of Britain's Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday (Sept 24).
Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday (Sept 24).PHOTO: REUTERS
Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday (Sept 24).
Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday (Sept 24).PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday (Sept 24).
Mr Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday (Sept 24).PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Mr Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party on Saturday (Sept 24), ending a "coup" attempt by more moderate lawmakers who say his left-wing agenda can never deliver victory at the polls.

The veteran campaigner's triumph, by 313,209 to 193,229 votes, cements his authority over the deeply divided party and will fuel his drive to turn Labour further to the left - a move many of his colleagues say will see them out of power and allow the ruling Conservatives free rein to set Britain's divorce from the EU.

Mr Corbyn took 62 per cent of the vote, beating challenger Owen Smith in an election that was forced after Labour lawmakers in the House of Commons voted 172-40 that they had "no confidence" in Mr Corbyn and resigned en masse from his team of spokesmen, known as the shadow cabinet.

The result of the leadership vote was announced in Liverpool, northwest England, where party members are gathering for their annual conference.

The leader, who took 60 per cent of first-preference votes when he was initially elected last year, appealed for the party to unite behind his leadership after voting finished on Wednesday.

He reminded lawmakers that he has the support of rank-and-file members of the party and warned them not to challenge him again.

Mr Smith, though, has said he wouldn't serve in a Mr Corbyn shadow Cabinet.

"We owe it to the millions of people Labour exists to represent to end the sniping and personal attacks, and work together for all those who depend on the election of a Labour government. Anything else would be destructive self-indulgence," Mr Corbyn said in a statement on Wednesday.

"All Labour Party members and MPs have a responsibility to work within the democracy of our party and respect the leadership of whoever is elected."

'Red Tories'

Polls and bookmakers suggested Mr Corbyn would easily defeat his challenger as he retained the support of party members attracted by his "authentic" image and socialist anti-austerity policies.

Lawmakers who pointed to Mr Corbyn's lackluster performance in the EU referendum campaign and failure to effectively challenge the Tory government were dismissed as "red Tories" and "traitors" by his supporters.

"The left wing of the Labour Party are generally good at internal politics; the difficulty is that the moderates have lost the skills they acquired in the 1980s for dealing with militants," Mr Ben Page, chief executive officer of polling company Ipsos Mori, said in a telephone interview. "It damages their prospects of being seen as electable. People don't like divided parties."

 

Mr Corbyn was in talks before the result was announced to persuade rebel lawmakers to return to his team but said he will not change his style or policies to address their concerns.

What they'll get is "the same Jeremy Corbyn who's been through the last year, indeed the last 30 years in Parliament", he said in a BBC interview on Wednesday.

Campaign Push

Mr Corbyn attended 59 events during the campaign, including rallies in city centers of thousands of supporters. His team made 300,000 phone calls to Labour members and signed up 40,000 volunteers to support his leadership, he said.

Opponents contrasted Mr Corbyn's fight to keep his job with his performance before the Brexit referendum, during which he refused to appear alongside members of other parties and failed to attend campaign strategy meetings with his Labour colleagues.

He was also criticised for not being tough enough on misogyny and anti-semitism in the party. Both candidates committed to spending hundreds of millions of pounds on infrastructure, taking rail services back under government control and protecting the National Health Service from potential privatization.

Mr Smith differed from Mr Corbyn by promising to be a more effective leader, rebuild Labour's image as a government in waiting and press for a referendum on any Brexit deal.

Poll Gap

Mrs Theresa May's Conservative Party leads Labour by about eight percentage points in opinion polls and Mr Corbyn's approval ratings lag behind the premier's.

An Ipsos Mori poll of 1,000 voters carried out between Sept 10 and 14 gave Mrs May a "satisfaction" rating of plus 27 while Mr Corbyn scored minus 31.

No margin of error was given.

"While 23 per cent think he'd make a great prime minister, the difficulty is that 53 per cent think that Theresa May is a great prime minister," Mr Page said. "Labour's chances of winning the 2020 general election remain as remote as ever."