The death of New Labour with Corbyn landslide
Corbyn's win plunges the Labour Party into crisis, as many of the party's MPs believe he will lead it to electoral oblivion
Published 13/09/2015 | 02:30
Britain's Labour party was plunged into crisis last night after the Left-wing radical Jeremy Corbyn stormed to a landslide victory in the party's leadership election.
Leading Blairites warned the party is now "fighting for its life", as eight shadow ministers resigned from Labour's front bench within minutes of Mr Corbyn's victory.
Mr Corbyn won the election with 60 per cent of the vote and the backing of more than 250,000 members, crushing the campaigns of the former cabinet ministers Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper.
Mr Burnham and Mrs Cooper, who served in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, were humiliated and left with just 19 per cent and 17 per cent of the vote respectively.
Lord Mandelson, one of the architects of New Labour, warned: "Labour is facing the fight of its life to remain a viable party of government."
David Blunkett, the former home secretary, said Labour could be "on the road to nowhere" after he was harangued by a Corbyn supporter shouting: "Jeremy in; Blairites out."
In a further sign of Labour's lurch to the Left, Tristram Hunt, a leading moderniser and critic of Mr Corbyn's was jeered outside the conference hall in Westminster where the result was announced.
Mr Corbyn was last night preparing to bring back a number of hard-Left socialist MPs to the party's front bench, including Diane Abbott, the former minister Michael Meacher, and John McDonnell, his campaign manager, who wants to raise taxes on the middle-classes.
One Labour MP said "New Labour is now dead and buried", and Liam Fox, the former Tory defence secretary, said that Mr Blair's legacy "has finally been laid to rest".
Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, and Len McCluskey, the leader of the Unite union, hailed their fellow socialist's victory amid fears of a catastrophic split in the party.
The result was immediately welcomed by the ultra-Left-wing governments of Greece and Argentina while the Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness sent their "warmest congratulations".
The Conservatives warned that the "extreme" Mr Corbyn represents a "serious risk" to national and economic security as they moved to claim the centre-ground of British politics.
The 66 year-old MP for Islington North came from obscurity as a rank outsider in June to triumph in the contest. He won in large part thanks to votes from people who paid £3 to become Labour Party "members". He received 251,417 of the 422,664 votes cast in the election, including 88,449 of the 105,598 votes came from people who paid £3 to become registered members of the party.
As he accepted his new post in a rambling speech to thousands of supporters, Mr Corbyn declared that a new "movement" had been born to fight for "a more equal, a more decent Britain".
After the official announcement at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster, Mr Corbyn and his team went to a nearby pub, the Sanctuary House, where the new leader drank lime and soda, and led his supporters in a rousing chorus of the socialist anthem, The Red Flag.
Speaking to supporters in the pub, Mr Corbyn paid a warm tribute to Mr McCluskey and his union, Unite, who had been "fantastic" for providing office space and support for his leadership campaign.
Mr McDonnell, the backbench socialist MP who ran Mr Corbyn's campaign, said he was almost in tears at the result. "The earth moved," he said. "Another world is possible. We want to bring this government down. We want to install in No 10 one of the best socialists."
But the result opened up a vast rift between Labour's grassroots members and the party's MPs, the most of whom did not back Mr Corbyn for leader and who believe he will lead them to electoral oblivion.
Lord Soley, a former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said he feared victory for Mr Corbyn "may have handed the next election to the Tory party".
Mr Corbyn now faces a huge struggle to unite the Labour Party in Parliament behind his leadership. Only 15 per cent of MPs - many reluctantly - agreed to nominate him so that his name could be on the ballot paper in June.
There were suggestions that MPs angry at the result would try to remove Mr Corbyn in a coup.
One senior figure in a rival leadership campaign said: "Corbyn has declared war on the parliamentary Labour Party. We will be considering our response."