Who is Jeremy Corbyn ... and why is he controversial?

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

After months of in-party wrangling Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected (see footage) as leader of the Labour Party with a stronger mandate than when he first secured the role last September.

So who is the Labour leader?

A lifelong left-winger, Corbyn joined the Labour Party and Young Socialists while he was still at school and after school quickly became involved in the trade union movement.

He worked as a trade union organiser for a number of years before being elected to Haringey District Council in 1974, aged 25.

From there he worked tirelessly for the party and was elected to Parliament in 1983, representing Islington North. He has held that seat ever since, winning it with an enlarged majority of almost 22,000.

He has been a vocal anti-war campaigner, led anti-apartheid protests in the 1980s, is a staunch believer in nationalisation and is strongly opposed to the austerity policies of the Conservative government.

Why he’s popular with grassroots supporters?

Corbyn’s presence at the top of the party and struggle to remain there has been credited with recent rapid rise in Labour Party membership, with thousands signing up to keep him in charge.

To many he represents a Labour movement that was consigned to the past by Tony Blair’s New Labour.

The traditionally socialist nature of the party was replaced with a more centre-right stance, alienating many long-term members of the party. Corbyn’s unashamed socialist stance and policies has offered hopes to many of a return to Labour’s traditional values of social justice.

He’s also been hailed as a straight-speaker who doesn’t play the usual political games that turn off so many members of the public.

Why he’s not so popular with many within his party?

His straight-talking and refusal to play games have put off many of the parliamentary party, with many MPs viewing him as a weak leader. He’s been accused of failing to rally support for Remain in the EU referendum and of failing to capitalise on various Tory scandals and failings.

A number of the causes Corbyn supports are controversial. He has supported Irish Republicanism, is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, chaired the Stop the War coalition, and opposes to the renewal of Trident, not all of which sit well with some of his MPs.

His policies are too far to the left for many who came to prominence during the New Labour era. Renationalising industries such as the railways, large-scale council house building and a socialist approach to decision making and wealth distribution put him at odds with some members of his own party.