Some people swear by Marmite, while others swear at the sight or mention of Marmite. What is true of the British sandwich spread appears to apply to Labour stalwart Jeremy Corbyn, who just been re-elected leader of Britain Labour Party – a party he described in his victory speech as brimming with potential for taking Britain forward – despite being disliked by many a colleague.
Already elected party leader just over a year ago, Corbyn had come under fire from within his own camp. He was taken to task for not being electable enough, not sufficiently active in campaigning for the UK to stay in the European Union, and sluggish in his reaction to racial and anti-Semitic abuse within the Labour Party. Dozens of Labour MPs quit Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and, mere days after the Vote Leave Brexit vote triumph sent shockwaves through British and European politics, Labour MPs passed a no confidence motion against their leader of 9 months.
Add on top of all this the fact that his fashion sense was being derided by former Prime Minister cum regular bloke who’s not even an MP any more David Cameron, and the fact that his ex-wife said she’d voted for his rival Owen Smith, and Corbyn was really feeling the heat from all sides.
Addressing the crowd at the party conference in Liverpool Corbyn was humble and hailed his feisty (to say the least) competitor Owen Smith, thanking him for what the party boss calling “lively and good humoured debates”. Instead of lamenting the personal attacks he came in for from the Smith camp, Corbyn said it was time to “wipe the slate clean” after the intra-party warfare, choosing instead to emphasise the fact that it was all just a family quarrel since there is so much more that unites his supporters, whom the media have taken a shine to dubbing Corbynistas, and Smith supporters.
Now that he once again has a clear mandate at the helm of a somewhat shaky Labour Party, Corbyn turned his guns on the even more topsy-turvy Tories (deliberate alliteration for effect), who just a few weeks ago were bogged down in an internal battle of their own to elect their party leader – one which saw Vote Leave tenor Michael Gove, who had gone on record for years saying that he did not see himself as the right man for the job of Conservative Party leader – appear to support former London mayor Boris Johnson’s bid, before doing a 180 and stabbing everyone’s favourite dishevelled blonde politician in the back and launching a campaign of his own, painting Johnson into a corner that stopped his leadership bid in its tracks, only to do another 180 and give up his own campaign, leaving the path clear for Theresa May to romp into Number 10. Corbyn slammed new PM May as not leading a new government, but simply a Cameron government 2.0 i.e. hard right policies coated with progressive slogans.
On the matter of progress, Corbyn described Labour by contrast as an “engine of progress”. He also pointed out that in terms of number of registered party members, Labour was the largest political party in Western Europe. The main issues on which he highlighted perceived flaws in the May government’s programme were education – in particular grammar schools, which he chastised as purveyors of educational segregation and which is an issue about which Corbyn is so passionate that it cost him a marriage when he and his wife – his second wife, not the one above who didn’t wote for him, as she was the first, and apparently Jeremy is quite the ladies’ an – could not find common ground on a choice of school for their son, health, refugees, child poverty and peace.
The last part of his speech focused on ensuring workers earned a living wage, and on the issue of sharing wealth in society, issued straight out of the party’s first ever manifesto 1918’s Labour and the New Social Order, which would no doubt have won him praise from Labour Party founder James Keir Hardy.
Jeremy Corbyn, the 33 year parliamentary veteran, is old school Labour through and through. One wonders, though, if his popularity among registered party voters not being reflected in the Commons amongst his MP colleagues is cause for concern. That said, a few months ago both Corbyn and Cameron were walking a political tightrope, both fell but there appears to only have been a safety net for Corbyn the trapeze artist, while Cameron – who in the space of mere days went from PM to backbench MP to private citizen – fell all the way down onto the unforgiving spikes in the floor like a political version of Mortal Kombat.