The election of veteran progressive Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party has been welcomed in Ireland.
A stalwart of the party’s left-wing, an anti-war campaigner and a radical voice in England’s House of Commons, Corbyn secured a shock first-round win in the race to succeed Ed Miliband when the result was announced this afternoon.
His election marks a profound turnaround for British Labour, which has styled itself as centre-right “New Labour” since the leadership of Tony Blair in the 1990s.
The mildly-spoken, bearded politician is 66 years old and has spent 32 years as an MP. The ‘Old Labour’ candidate had started out as a 100-1 outsider, but wiped the floor with his “image-savvy” opponents with a clear political philosophy which connected with thousands of new, younger and more ambitious party members.
His policy platform contains the sorts of equality-based reforms long since considered too egalitarian for the British public.
Student tuition fees abolished, railways to be taken back from corporate hands, and austerity abandoned in favour of a programme of building affordable homes and a better quality of life for everyone.
An opponent of NATO, a supporter of Irish self-determination and sceptical about the European Union, many of his long-held positions are enjoying a resurgence of popular support in Britain
He has long defied the Thatcherite media by sharing platforms with previously ‘shunned’ Irish and Palestinians organisations in support of dialogue and peace.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams extended his “warmest congratulations”
“I have known Jeremy for many years,” he said. “He is a good friend of Ireland and of the Irish peace process. I wish him well in his new and challenging role as leader of the British Labour Party and look forward to working with him in the time ahead to ensure that the gains of the peace process are built upon.”