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Who is Jeremy Corbyn?

A glance at the background and beliefs of the new leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party


 
Jeremy Corbyn smiles as he leaves the stage  after he is announced as the new leader of The Labour Party during the Labour Party Leadership Conference in London, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. Corbyn will now lead Britain's main opposition party. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Jeremy Corbyn smiles as he leaves the stage after he is announced as the new leader of The Labour Party during the Labour Party Leadership Conference in London, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. Corbyn will now lead Britain’s main opposition party. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON — Far-left lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn has won the race to lead Britain’s opposition Labour Party, a result many considered unimaginable just months ago. Here is a glance at his background and his beliefs:

WHO IS CORBYN?

Corbyn was born in 1949 to a middle-class family. His mother was a teacher and his father an engineer, and they reportedly met while campaigning on the Spanish civil war.

As a teenager, he became involved in causes such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and both Corbyn and his elder brother joined the Young Socialists.

Corbyn did not finish his studies at the North London Polytechnic. He was elected to Haringey Council, a municipal authority in north London, in 1974 at 25.

He served as a full time trade union organizer before he entered the House of Commons as lawmaker for London’s Islington North in 1983 — a seat he has held ever since.

WHAT ARE HIS CAUSES?

Corbyn has been a fixture at left-leaning demonstrations for decades.

In 1984, he was arrested outside the South African Embassy in London for protesting against apartheid. As a long-time nuclear disarmament campaigner, he opposes the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear fleet. In 2001 he helped establish the Stop the War coalition to campaign against the war in Iraq — and he still remains the group’s chair.

Corbyn is patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and takes a keen interest in championing “the rights of the oppressed” around the world, according to his website.

ANY CONTROVERSIES?

Britain’s centre-right newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, has repeatedly noted that in 1984 Corbyn invited Gerry Adams, longtime leader of the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party and reputedly a former Irish Republican Army commander, to the House of Commons days after a deadly IRA bombing in England.

More recently Corbyn faced a television grilling when an interviewer questioned whether he called the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends.” Corbyn replied that he used the word in a “collective way” and did not agree with the actions of the two groups. But he said he believed “you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree” to bring about a peace process.

Corbyn has long been known as a Labour rebel — he has voted to defy party whips more than 500 times.

WHAT ARE HIS POLICIES?

Within Britain, Corbyn wants to scrap university tuition fees and introduce laws to bring railways into public control. He wants to abandon economic austerity in favour of printing money to build affordable homes and other infrastructure.

Corbyn has stressed the need for what he called “tax justice” — “those with the most, pay the most” — and argues for cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion by businesses and the wealthy.

Abroad, Corbyn believes Britain should consider pulling out of NATO, wants Britain to spend less on defence and is against air strikes in Syria.


 
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