Jeremy Corbyn elected Labour leader with massive support
Published 12/09/2015 | 12:34
Veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn has won the leadership of the Labour Party by a landslide, taking almost 60% of more than 400,000 votes cast.
In a result which marks a fundamental change of direction for the party, the Islington North MP defeated rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in the first round of counting, taking 251,417 (59.5%) of the 422,664 votes cast.
His victory was cheered loudly by supporters at the QEII conference centre in Westminster, who had greeted him to the event by singing the Red Flag.
After 32 years on Labour's backbenches, the 66-year-old won only a handful of votes from his fellow MPs but was swept to victory in the race to replace Ed Miliband by a surge of enthusiasm from members in the country as well as new "registered supporters" who paid £3 to secure a vote.
He now faces the massive challenge of forming a shadow cabinet which will deliver his anti-austerity, anti-war policies without splitting the party. Already senior figures including shadow chancellor Chris Leslie, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt and Ms Kendall have said they will not serve under him.
Mr Corbyn must also prepare to face David Cameron in the House of Commons for his first Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.
Corbyn supporters chanted "Jez we did" as he took to the stage, putting on his glasses to deliver his acceptance speech.
Mr Corbyn said the campaign "showed our party and our movement, passionate, democratic, diverse, united and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all."
Mr Corbyn paid tribute to interim leader Harriet Harman, his predecessor Mr Miliband and his three leadership rivals, making a point of praising Ms Cooper for her intervention in the migrant crisis when she was the first major politician to demand that Britain takes in 10,000 Syrian refugees.
He announced he will attend a "Refugees Welcome Here" rally in London once the leadership conference is over.
He said: "My first act as leader of the party will be to go to the demonstration this afternoon to show support for the way refugees should be treated and must be treated in this country."
Thanking a long list of unions and socialist societies which endorsed him as leader, Mr Corbyn said the Labour Party is "organically linked together" with the unions, adding: "That's where we get our strength from."
He made clear that his first day in Parliament as leader will see him oppose the Government's efforts "to shackle unions in the Trade Union Bill which they are bringing forward on Monday".
Mr Corbyn's victory came just minutes after the election of West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson as deputy leader.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of the UK's biggest union Unite, congratulated both men, saying: "Voters can now look at Labour and see, unquestionably, that it stands for fairness, justice, peace and strong communities. It is the party of hope, ready to take on a Government hell-bent on making life worse for ordinary people.
"The task now for all of us who support Labour is to back the leadership team, to unite, to turn to face the Tories and hold them to account. It is what the voters expect, it is the way back to power and it is the duty of those at all levels of the party to deliver."
Mr Corbyn said: "During these amazing three months, our party has changed. We have grown enormously, because of the hopes of so many ordinary people for a different Britain, a better Britain, a more equal Britain, a more decent Britain.
"They are fed up with the inequality, the injustice, the unnecessary poverty. All those issues have brought people in in a spirit of hope and optimism.
"I say to the new members of the party, or those who have joined as registered or affiliated supporters - welcome. Welcome to our party, welcome to our movement. Can I say to those returning to the party who were in it before and felt disillusioned and went away. Welcome back, welcome back to your party, welcome home."
He said his campaign had given the lie to claims that young Britons are apathetic about politics, showing instead that they are "a very political generation that were turned off by the way in which politics was being conducted". He said: "We have to and must change that."
Mr Corbyn said: "The fightback now of our party gathers speed and gathers pace."
He went on: "We go forward now as a movement and a party bigger than we have ever been in a very, very long time, stronger than we have been for a very long time, more determined than we have been for a very long time, to show to everyone that the objectives of our party are intact, our passion is intact, our demand for humanity is intact."
He said the party is going to become more "inclusive, more involved, more democratic" and will "shape the future of everyone in this country".
He added: "We don't have to be unequal, it doesn't have to be unfair, poverty isn't inevitable, things can and they will change."
Mr Corbyn faced his first front bench resignation within moments of his victory, as shadow health spokesman Jamie Reed announced he was quitting.
In a letter to the new leader, Mr Reed - whose Copeland constituency includes the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site - condemned Mr Corbyn's anti-nuclear policies as "poorly informed and fundamentally wrong".
And Mr Reed warned: "No amount of well-meaning protest will protect the NHS, drive up standards, recruit more medical professionals or improve the accessibility of world-class healthcare to the British people. Only an elected Labour government will do this."
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "Labour are now a serious risk to our nation's security, our economy's security and your family's security.
"Whether it's weakening our defences, raising taxes on jobs and earnings, racking up more debt and welfare or driving up the cost of living by printing money - Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party will hurt working people.
"This is a very serious moment for our country - the Conservatives will continue to deliver stability, security and opportunity for working people."
The four leadership candidates joined to pose for photographs, arms around one another's shoulders.
Mr Burnham sent a message on Twitter: "Congratulations @jeremycorbyn on your victory. The priority now is to unite and to take on the Tories."