A Brief History of the Labour Party
Over the last few weeks the U.K.’s largest political parties have released their election manifestos. Whether it be the Conservative’s plans or the Labour taxes, many across the political spectrum have been left confused and see no reasonable option as none of the main party leaders seem to represent them.
One of the main parties in the UK is the Labour party, a left-wing party led by Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist who has been an ardent trade unionist since 1971. The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn on the UK political scene was a turbulent one as Labour has never had a leader as far left as Jeremy Corbyn since the departure of Michael Foot following his decisive loss against Margaret Thatcher. Following the loss of Michael Foot, the Right Honourable Neil Kinnock led the Labour party, turning it into a more socially democratic ‘New Labour.’ This ‘New Labour’ party discarded less popular ideas such as the nationalisation of certain industries and class warfare which made it much more successful than the old Labour Party, enjoying a landslide victory in 1997 and staying in power until 2010. This ‘New Labour’ momentum eventually came to a standstill with another election loss in 2015 to Labour’s main rivals, the Conservative Party. Edward Miliband who led the party at the time of the election decided that it was time to step down and hand over party to someone else.
The man that took power was Jeremy Corbyn, with just under 60% of the Party’s members voting for him in their leadership vote. Jeremy had the backing of some of the biggest labour unions in the United Kingdom such as ‘Unite the Union’, which contains over a million members and is led by Len McCluskey. Jeremy was counted as a radical outsider and received much criticism for his support of socialist regimes across the world and Irish dissident republicans who led a brutal and deadly bombing campaign across the United Kingdom. His leadership of the party was also stricken by the dissent and even resignations of major party backers who preferred the policies of ‘New Labour’, such as Lord Alan Sugar ( a prominent British businessmen) and over 20 major advisors in a 2 day period. When a Brexit campaign was announced over whether the UK should leave the European Union or not, Jeremy Corbyn campaigned in favour of remaining in the Union, despite the fact that he had advocated for leaving for decades as most major party leaders (with the exception of the United Kingdom Independence Party led by Nigel Farage); however his presence on the campaign trail was minimal indicating that perhaps he never sided with the Remain campaign after all.
After the Brexit vote, Jeremy Corbyn was challenged by Owen Smith, a more moderate member of the Labour Party. A leadership battle ensues but Jeremy won with an even bigger share of the vote than the first time he was voted in. However this was not without the support of Momentum, a grassroots organisation that was formed after Jeremy took power in the Labour Party. It was also due to the support of ‘Unite the Union’ and Len McCluskey who once again had come to the rescue.
Unite has a long history of working alongside the Labour Party and was nearly put under police investigation for allegedly rigging candidate selection processes. Len McCluskey even threatened to create a splinter party to represent hardcore socialist values if Labour lost the election, but this was avoided with Jeremy Corbyn taking over. With all of these controversies, flip flopping and attacks on his authority, Corbyn seemed like a weak leader and support for Labour was slipping.
Current Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May called an election recently in the hope of repeating the election result of 1983 when the Conservative Party defeated the Labour Party with a hard left candidate, but her lead in the polls has more than halved showing that perhaps she is not the ‘Strong and Stable’ candidate she promises to be.
Written by @British_Conservatarian;