Poster Boy For Western Socialism Loses Biggest No Confidence Vote In History

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

The man heralded as leading the resurgence of western socialism and a revival of the global left has lost a vote of no confidence in his own party.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, lost a vote of no confidence among his members of parliament by 176 to 44 Tuesday — the biggest margin in modern British history.

The no-confidence vote is a massive setback for the far-left Corbyn, but he has not been ousted from the Labour leadership. His enemies in parliament will need to select a rival candidate and then Labour party voters will decide the outcome.

Those party members outside parliament, who have been overwhelmingly supportive of Corbyn’s leadership, will be the biggest obstacle to efforts to removing him. The clash between Labour’s MPs and ordinary party members has sparked speculation that the party itself could split apart.

Despite lacking the confidence of his own party in parliament, Corbyn issued a defiant statement Tuesday confirming he will not resign and will fight to retain the leadership.

“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning,” he said.

Corbyn shocked the British political system by storming to victory in the Labour leadership race of September 2015. A host of MPs who resigned from Corbyn’s team over the weekend told him he is not fit to be leader of the Labour Party and said they would lose in a landslide to the Conservatives in a General Election, which could be held by the end of the year.

Corbyn is an unapologetic socialist in favor of government control of key industries, high taxes, and unilateral nuclear disarmament. The Labour leader has been roundly criticised for naming terrorist organizations

Corbyn has also been roundly criticised for naming terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends.” Labour MPs cited Corbyn’s failure to campaign vigorously enough for the U.K.’s EU membership, which may have contributed to large numbers of Labour voters opting for Brexit as one of the central reasons the coup. (RELATED: Brexit Is Ripping Apart Britain’s Biggest Left-Wing Party)

When he was elected, left-wing commentators hoped Corbyn would move the political consensus and lead a resurgent left against the forces of capitalism.

Corbyn’s leadership is often compared to socialist insurgent Bernie Sanders who ran a surprisingly strong campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

Here is Corbyn’s full statement:

In the aftermath of last week’s referendum, our country faces major challenges. Risks to the economy and living standards are growing. The public is divided.

The Government is in disarray. Ministers have made it clear they have no exit plan, but are determined to make working people pay with a new round of cuts and tax rises.

Labour has the responsibility to give a lead where the Government will not. We need to bring people together, hold the Government to account, oppose austerity and set out a path to exit that will protect jobs and incomes.

To do that we need to stand together. Since I was elected leader of our party nine months ago, we have repeatedly defeated the Government over its attacks on living standards.

Last month, Labour become the largest party in the local elections. In Thursday’s referendum, a narrow majority voted to leave, but two thirds of Labour supporters backed our call for a remain vote.

I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.

We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.

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