After a humiliating electoral defeat, the British Labour Party is about to begin voting for a new leader, as social democrats across Europe debate how far left they want to move.
In January 2011, parliamentarian Kevin Brennan walked dolefully through his new, smaller offices in Britain’s parliament. Some eight months earlier he had kept his seat in a South Wales constituency, but his party, Labour, had lost the election. The defeat was due largely to a muddled chaotic campaign run by Gordon Brown, who had stood for prime minister for the first time after brutally ousting his former friend Tony Blair from the head of the Labour party.
“Opposition,” said Mr. Brennan at the time, “is just rubbish, We need to be in power, doing something.”
Fast forward four years and little has changed. Mr. Brennan still has his seat and Labour is still out of power, after losing yet another general election. It is also in the throes of a leadership change that many fear will destroy the party altogether. Tomorrow, Labour members begins voting for a new leader, by post and online. The results will be announced on September 12.
The current frontrunner in the race to lead Labour is Jeremy Corbyn, a 66-year-old, bearded, slightly scruffy parliamentarian who strongly opposes austerity measures, talks about renationalizing utility companies and strengthening the power of unions both within the party and the country.
For his supporters. Mr. Corbyn is the voice of authenticity, taking Labour back to its Socialist roots, reoccupying the ground that has been taken in recent years by the Green Party, and the avowedly left-wing Scottish Nationalist Party.
His detractors say he is the biggest threat facing Labour in years; a dangerous hard leftist that threatens to condemn the party to years in the wilderness.
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