Jeremy Bernard Corbyn, born 26 May 1949 is a British politician serving as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition since 2015. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Islington North since 1983.
Ideologically, Corbyn identifies as a democratic socialist. He advocates reversing austerity cuts to public services and welfare funding made since 2010, and proposes renationalisation of public utilities and the railways. An anti-war and anti-nuclear campaigner since his youth, he broadly supports a foreign policy of military non-interventionism and unilateral nuclear disarmament.
Corbyn began his career as a representative for various trade unions. His political career began when he was elected to Haringey Council in 1974; he later became Secretary of Hornsey Constituency Labour Party, and continued in both roles until elected MP for Islington North. As a backbench MP he was known for his activism and rebelliousness, frequently voting against the Labour whip, including when the party was in government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Corbyn was also the national chair of the Stop the War Coalition from 2011 to 2015.
Corbyn announced his candidacy for the Labour leadership following Labour's defeat in the 2015 general election and the resignation of Ed Miliband. Despite entering the leadership race as the dark horse candidate and having only just secured 35 nominations from fellow Labour MPs to be placed on the ballot, Corbyn quickly emerged as the leading candidate and was elected leader in September 2015, with a first-round vote of 59.5%.
In the snap 2017 general election, Labour (under Corbyn) again finished as the second largest party in parliament, but increased their share of the popular vote to 40%, resulting in a net gain of 30 seats and a hung parliament. It was the first time Labour had made a net gain of seats since 1997, and the party's 9.6% increase in vote share was its largest in a single general election since 1945.
Corbyn was born in Chippenham and brought up in nearby Kington St Michael in Wiltshire. He is the youngest of the four sons of Naomi Loveday (née Josling; 1915–1987), a maths teacher, and David Benjamin Corbyn (1915–1986), an electrical engineer and expert in power rectifiers. His brother Piers Corbyn is a weather forecaster. His parents were peace campaigners who met in the 1930s at a committee meeting in support of the Spanish Republic at Conway Hall during the Spanish Civil War. When Corbyn was seven years old, the family moved to Pave Lane in Shropshire, where his father bought Yew Tree Manor, a 17th-century farmhouse which was once part of the Duke of Sutherland's Lilleshall estate.
Corbyn was educated at Castle House School, an independent preparatory school near Newport, Shropshire, before attending Adams' Grammar School as a day student. While still at school, he became active in The Wrekin constituency Young Socialists, his local Labour Party, and the League Against Cruel Sports. He achieved two E-grade A-Levels before leaving school at 18. Corbyn joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in 1966 whilst at school and later became one of its three vice-chairs.
After school, Corbyn worked briefly as a reporter for a local newspaper, the Newport and Market Drayton Advertiser. At around the age of 19 he spent two years doing Voluntary Service Overseas in Jamaica as a youth worker and geography teacher.
Early career and political activities
Returning to the UK in 1971, he worked as an official for the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers. Corbyn began a course in Trade Union Studies at North London Polytechnic but left after a year without a degree after a series of arguments with his tutors over the curriculum. He worked as a trade union organiser for the National Union of Public Employees and Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, where his union was approached by Tony Benn and "encouraged ... to produce a blueprint for workers' control of British Leyland"; the plans did not proceed after Benn was moved to a different Department.
He was appointed a member of a district health authority and in early 1974, at the age of 24, he was elected to Haringey Council in South Hornsey ward. After boundary changes in 1978 he was re-elected in Haringey ward as councillor, remaining so until 1983. As a delegate from Hornsey to the Labour Party conference in 1978, Corbyn successfully moved a motion calling for dentists to be employed by the NHS rather than private contractors. He also spoke in another debate, describing a motion calling for greater support for law and order as "more appropriate to the National Front than to the Labour Party".
Corbyn became the local Labour Party's agent and organiser, and had responsibility for the 1979 general election campaign in Hornsey. He worked on Tony Benn's unsuccessful deputy leadership campaign in 1981. He was keen to allow former International Marxist Group member Tariq Ali to join the party, despite Labour's National Executive having declared him unacceptable, and declared that "so far as we are concerned ... he's a member of the party and he'll be issued with a card." In May 1982, when Corbyn was chairman of the Constituency Labour Party, Ali was given a party card signed by Corbyn; in November the local party voted by 17 to 14 to insist on his membership "up to and including the point of disbandment of the party".
In the July 1982 edition of London Labour Briefing, Corbyn opposed expulsions of the Militant tendency, saying that "If expulsions are in order for Militant, they should apply to us too." In the same year, he was the "provisional convener" of "Defeat the Witch-Hunt Campaign", based at Corbyn's then address.
Parliamentary backbencher (1983–2015)
Labour in opposition (1983–97)
Corbyn was selected as the Labour Party candidate for the constituency of Islington North, in February 1982, At the 1983 general election he was elected Member of Parliament for Islington North, after defeating the incumbent Michael O'Halloran and immediately joined the Socialist Campaign Group, later becoming secretary of the group. In February 2017, Morning Star said about Corbyn: "He has been bullied, betrayed and ridiculed, and yet he carries on with the same grace and care he always shows to others – however objectionable their behaviour and treatment of him might be."
In 1983, Corbyn spoke out on a "no socialism without gay liberation" platform and continued to campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
He was a campaigner against apartheid in South Africa, serving on the National Executive of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Jeremy Corbyn has been on the right side of history for 30 years.
Poll tax protests and select committee membership
In 1990, Corbyn opposed the Poll tax (formally known as the Community Charge)and nearly went to jail for not paying the tax.
Corbyn sat on the Social Security Select Committee from 1992 to 1997, the London Regional Select Committee from 2009 to 2010, and the Justice Select Committee from 2010 to 2015.
In October 2001, Corbyn was elected to the steering committee of the Stop the War Coalition, which was formed to oppose the War in Afghanistan which started later that year. In 2002, Corbyn reported unrest : "there is disquiet...about issues of foreign policy" among some members of the Labour party. He cited "the deployment of troops to Afghanistan and the threat of bombing Iraq" as examples. He was vehemently opposed to the Iraq War in 2003, and spoke at dozens of anti-war rallies in Britain and overseas. He helped organise the February 2003 anti-Iraq War protest which was claimed to be the largest such protest in British political history. In 2006, Corbyn was one of 12 Labour MPs to support Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party's call for a parliamentary inquiry into the Iraq War. He was elected chair of the coalition in succession to Andrew Murray (trade unionist) in September 2011, but resigned once he became Leader of the Labour Party in September 2015.
Corbyn and the Media
In July 2016, a study and analysis by academics from the London School of Economics of months of eight national newspaper articles about Corbyn in the first months of his leadership of Labour showed that 75% of them either distorted or failed to represent his actual views on subjects.
Awards and recognition
In 2013, Corbyn was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Award for his "consistent efforts over a 30-year parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non‐violence."
In December 2017 he was one of three recipients awarded the Seán MacBride Peace Prize "for his sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace".