Great Britain’s New Labour Party Leader Loves Karl Marx, Likes Hamas, and Hates Austerity

Jeremy Corbyn, an avowed socialist and political longshot, won the race to lead the United Kingdom’s second-largest party on Saturday.

Stefan Weymuth / Reuters

Last month, as Jeremy Corbyn, a plain-speaking, Marx-admiring, far-left politician in Great Britain’s Labour Party appeared to become a real contender in the race for his party’s leadership, former Prime Minister Tony Blair offered these words of warning in The Guardian:

The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched over the cliff's edge to the jagged rocks below. … If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader it won’t be a defeat like 1983 or 2015 at the next election. It will mean rout, possibly annihilation.

On Saturday, nearly 60 percent of Labour voters ignored Blair’s exhortations and chose Corbyn to be the leader of the party. “I say thank you in advance to us all working together to achieve great victories,” the 66-year-old politician said on Saturday, “not just electorally for Labour, but emotionally for the whole of our society to show we don't have to be unequal, it doesn't have to be unfair, poverty isn't inevitable.”

Corbyn’s rise from a 100-to-1 longshot to party leader coincides with the broader emergence of outsiders like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or Jimmy Morales, the comedian who won the first round of voting in Guatemala’s presidential race this week. As Reuters notes, Corbyn’s success also dovetails with a surge among far-left groups in Europe “with Syriza taking power in Greece and Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos performing well in opinion polls.”

As leader of Great Britain’s second-largest party, his domestic goals include nationalizing the country’s railways and utilities, raising taxes on the wealthy, and rejecting austerity measures. Many have suggested that Corbyn’s win could increase the chances of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union—while Corbyn says he supports staying, he is a harsh critic of EU policy and voted for the country to leave the European Community back in 1975.

Last month, my colleague Krishnadev Calamur outlined Corbyn’s global platform, which has raised some eyebrows abroad:

Corbyn’s foreign-policy positions are unlikely to endear him to any occupant of the White House. He opposes British involvement in airstrikes against ISIS over Syria, wants to eliminate the country’s nuclear deterrent, and says he favors talks with his “friends” in Hamas and Hezbollah.

But perhaps more important than all of that, Corbyn has secured Daniel Radcliffe’s support.