Jeremy Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn (2017)

Jeremy Bernard Corbyn (born May 26, 1949 in Chippenham , Wiltshire ) is a British trade union official and politician ( Labor Party ). Since 1983 he has represented the North Islington constituency in the British House of Commons . From 2015 to 2020 he was party chairman and opposition leader . After losing the British general election in 2019 , he declared that he wanted to retire as party leader. In April 2020, Keir Starmer took over the party leadership from Corbyn.

Life and political career

Jeremy Corbyn was born to electrical engineer David Corbyn and his wife Naomi, a math teacher at Stafford Girls' High School (now King Edward VI High School ). His parents (died 1986 and 1987) were political activists who met while on a committee in support of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War . His older brother is the physicist Piers Corbyn.

Corbyn grew up in Newport , Shropshire . He attended Adams' Grammar School there . After leaving school at the age of 18 years he worked for two years in the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in Jamaica before functionary of the union National Union of Public Employees (Nupe) ( union for public sector workers was). After studying for a short time at the North London Polytechnic (today: University of North London; part of the London Metropolitan University ), he dropped out and worked as a functionary for the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers (NUTGW) .

In 1974 he was elected to the Council (Council) of the London borough of Haringey ( Councilor ), in which he was re-elected several times and stayed there until 1984.

Corbyn worked in Tony Benn's 1981 election campaign for the post of Deputy Leader of the Labor Party. In 1983 he was first elected to the House of Commons for the Labor Party in the Islington North constituency. The constituency has traditionally been seen as a safe Labor stronghold. Since then, Corbyn has been able to successfully defend his constituency.

Election as party chairman in 2015

Result of the primary election of the Labor chairman from August 14 to September 12, 2015
candidate be right percent
Jeremy Corbyn 251,417 59.5%
Andy Burnham 80,462 19.0%
Yvette Cooper 71,928 17.0%
Liz Kendall 18,857 4.5%
total 422.664 100.0%

After the general election on May 7, 2015 , which was disappointing for Labor , the previous party chairman and top candidate Ed Miliband resigned from his office, so that a new chairman was necessary. In addition to Corbyn, three other candidates were campaigning within the party. Tony Blair , Labor chairman from 1994 to 2007 and Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, warned in August 2015 that Labor would face annihilation if Corbyn were elected. It is the right moment for a “ rugby tackle ”: someone has to stop this left-wing sleepwalker.

On September 12, 2015, Corbyn was elected in a primary election among the approximately 554,000 eligible voters (party members and approved supporters), of which just under 423,000 participated, with 59.5% in the first ballot as the new leader of the Labor Party. The turnout was 72.3%. On November 11, 2015, Corbyn became a member of the Privy Council , as is customary for opposition leaders. Since then he has also been entitled The Right Honorable .

Under Corbyn's party leadership, the Labor Party saw a significant influx of new members. Immediately before the general election in May 2015, the party had 201,293 members. That number rose to 388,407 by January 10, 2016.

Crisis of confidence after the EU referendum

Following the referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EU on June 23, 2016, both Labor MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey declared that they wanted to put a vote of no confidence in Corbyn. Corbyn's hesitant and little committed stance on the question of leaving the EU contributed to the outcome of the vote. The announcement then expanded into an internal party leadership crisis. By June 28, a total of 20 of the 30 members had resigned from the Corbyn-led Labor shadow cabinet . The foreign minister in the shadow cabinet, Hilary Benn , who had criticized Corbyn directly, was then dismissed by the latter. Benn said in an interview with the BBC that Corbyn had the necessary leadership qualities, which are particularly necessary at this point in time, as there may be new elections soon. With Corbyn at the helm, Labor could not win an election. In a vote of confidence on June 28, 172 of the Labor MPs voted against Corbyn and 40 for him. Corbyn then explained that this vote was "meaningless". Outside Parliament, several rallies were held in support of the Momentum group , which had been instrumental in driving Corbyn's election as party leader at the time.

During the leadership crisis after the referendum, Labor saw a mass entry of around 100,000 new members, bringing the Labor Party membership to around half a million. It was believed that most of the new members wanted to support Corbyn. In February 2019, a group left the party to protest Corbyn's policies.

Result of the primary election of the Labor chairman from August 22 to September 21, 2016
Jeremy Corbyn Owen Smith
Party members 168.216 116.960
84,918 36,599
60,075 39,670
Total votes 313.209 193.229
Vote percent 61.8% 38.2%

On July 11, 2016, Angela Eagle - a former member of Corbyn's shadow cabinet - declared her candidacy for the Labor Party leadership. On July 13, Owen Smith , also a former member of the Shadow Cabinet, followed as another candidate. After not finding enough support in the House of Commons, Eagle ended her candidacy on July 19 and declared her support for Smith. The only options left were Corbyn and Smith.

From 22 August to 21 September 2016, the new Labor leader was elected in a primary election by Labor members and registered Labor supporters. Corbyn tried to assert himself on the post of party leader and promised government investments of 500 billion pounds . The result was announced at a special conference in Liverpool on September 24th . Corbyn won the election with 61.8% of the vote.

Spin-off of the Independent Group

On February 18, 2019, a few MPs left the Labor Group and formed The Independent Group , its own parliamentary group. In their justification, they turned against the leadership of party leader Jeremy Corbyn. They accused him of a failed Brexit policy, the tolerance of anti-Semitism in the party and a left-wing extremist agenda in economic or security policy.

General election 2019

Corbyn led Labor into the 2019 British general election with an election manifesto that promised a practical Brexit deal with the EU within a short period of time that was to be presented in a second referendum. Domestically, Labor promised an investment program of £ 400 billion and extensive re-nationalization of the companies privatized in the 1980s. Labor lost the general election with the party's worst result since 1935 in terms of the distribution of seats. Labor lost a total of 59 seats in the lower house and was only able to win 203 constituencies; in addition, many constituencies in the so-called red wall, a collection of constituencies in the north of England and the Midlands that had elected Labor MPs for many decades, were lost to the victorious Conservative Party under Prime Minister Boris Johnson . Corbyn himself won his own Islington North constituency with a reduced majority. Many well-known Labor members and a majority of commentators in the British daily newspapers made Corbyn personally responsible for the historically poor performance. Some Labor Party members described Corbyn as "toxic" for the party's election campaign. On the other hand, Corbyn, although the most unpopular opposition leader since the poll started 45 years ago, declined any personal responsibility for the outcome of the election. He announced that he no longer wanted to lead the Labor party into the next general election, but initially left a resignation open. On December 15, 2019, it was announced that Corbyn intends to keep the party chairmanship until the election of his successor, which is planned for the end of March 2020, despite requests to resign from his party. A discussion arose within the party about whether the party's attitude to Brexit or the party leadership is primarily responsible for the election result. Corbyn urged his disappointed followers not to give up and continue to fight for a better society. On April 4, 2020, Labor announced that Keir Starmer had been elected to succeed Corbyn as party leader.

In the wake of the 2019 election, leaked documents made it clear that Corbyn's team focused a lot of resources on constituencies that are actually dominated by the Conservatives. Conversely, however, hard-fought constituencies were not prioritized. This affected constituencies like Stoke-on-Trent North, for example, where Ruth Smeeth , chairman of the Jewish Labor Movement and staunch critic of Corbyns, subsequently lost the election.

Political positions

Jeremy Corbyn at the No More War rally in Parliament Square (2014)

Corbyn, who describes himself as a democratic socialist , is considered "a classic leftist of the eighties" and is hostile to the British monarchy, New Labor and David Cameron's austerity policies . He advocates a withdrawal from NATO by the United Kingdom, a pacifist foreign policy , the nationalization of public utilities and the abolition of tuition fees .

Regarding the British monarchy , Corbyn said in 2015 that he was an advocate of a republic at heart, but knew that the popularity of the royal family made a change in government unlikely. The topic of the republic is not a priority for him, as he wants to be active in social policy above all.

Corbyn is known as an opponent of British nuclear armaments , including the Trident- armed Vanguard - nuclear submarines . In July 2016 he voted in the House of Commons against the upcoming renewal of the submarines, contrary to the majority of the Labor group. His statement that as Prime Minister he would never give orders to use nuclear weapons also caused controversy . Critics accused him of thwarting the whole concept of nuclear deterrence . In an interview in the Sunday Times , an unnamed British general threatened an army mutiny if Corbyn were to pursue his disarmament plans as prime minister. Literally, he said: "[T] he general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardize the security of the country" and threatened to resign "at all levels". The UK Ministry of Defense condemned the threat.

Corbyn was an opponent of the Kosovo war because it was waged without a UN mandate. In 2004 he supported a parliamentary motion asking the House of Commons to approve an article by journalist John Pilger published in the New Statesman . In the application, the war was described as "so-called humanitarian intervention" with invented reasons.

Corbyn has protested in the past against a public-private partnership in infrastructure projects, advocated higher income taxes for the “richest in society,” a demand he repeated before the general election in December 2019 , and advocated higher business taxes. Former state-owned companies should be nationalized again, especially in the energy and transport sectors. Quoted analysts in The Guardian , Financial Times and others calculated the cost of nationalizations for the six major energy companies, including the National Grid, to be at least £ 124 billion in 2015 . The financial means for this should be raised on the one hand through higher taxes, on the other hand through greater efforts in tax collection. In order to be able to invest in social housing and public transport, a "National Investment Bank" should be founded, which finances itself by selling bonds from the Bank of England ( quantitative easing for the people ). Corbyn also advocates reintroducing the demand for a “nationalization of the means of production” into the Labor Party's statutes.

In the past, Corbyn was one of the harshest critics of the New Labor project by Tony Blair , Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson and rejected both their economic policy and their foreign policy orientation. As chairman of the English Stop the War Coalition, he took part in demonstrations against the Iraq war and early on supported the demand for a commission of inquiry into the reasons for the start of the war. After survey results made it appear possible for Corbyn to be elected party chairman in the summer of 2015, he was massively attacked by Blair in the media: Under Corbyn's leadership, the Labor Party was threatened with "extinction" in the next election; According to Blair, Corbyn's politics are located in a “parallel world like Alice in Wonderland ”.

In a November 2015 BBC interview, Corbyn said he was “not happy” with a policy of targeted killshots, and that it was the job of security forces to prevent people from firing weapons. The BBC's regulator, the BBC Trust , found in January 2017 that political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg had made this statement incorrectly and biased.

The daily The Times wrote that Corbyn connections to a pro- PKK -Lobby network have. He is also the patron of the Peace Organization in Kurdistan . This is considered to be closely related to the PKK. In a parliamentary question from 2013, Corbyn called for the ban on the PKK to be lifted. In 2016 he pleaded for Öcalan's involvement in the Turkish peace process.

The journalist Glenn Greenwald compared the rejection of Corbyn by British politicians and the media with the reaction to Bernie Sanders in the United States .

Anti-Semitism Controversies

While anti-Semitism was not seen as a problem in the Labor Party in the years leading up to Corbyn's election as party leader, that has changed since then, and criticism has come from both Jeremy Corbyn and some of his close associates and friends:

In 2009, Corbyn referred to Hamas and Hezbollah, which at the time was already partially classified as a terrorist organization, as “friends”, an attitude that he relativized in 2015, but not completely revoked. In 2010, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day , Corbyn hosted an event in the UK Parliament entitled From Auschwitz to Gaza ; he was accused of equating Israel with the National Socialists . Corbyn also advocated calling Holocaust Remembrance Day just “Remembrance Day”. In 2011 he questioned Israel's right to exist and, on an Iranian-funded television station, took the position that assuming Israel's right to exist as a fact in any discussion about a solution to the Middle East conflict was one-sided bias. In 2012, Corbyn invited Raed Salah to the British Parliament, an Arab preacher from Israel who called for violence against the " Zionists " and who, following the medieval legend of ritual murder , had accused Jews of using the blood of non-Jewish children to make bread. Also in 2012, Corbyn shared on Facebook the criticism of the demolition of a wall painting by the US graffiti artist Mear One , classified as anti-Semitic , which showed six white men, some with a hooked nose corresponding to the stereotype of the Jew, playing monopoly on the back of black people and a " new world order ”. Corbyn later regretted not having looked at the picture more closely and declared that he had acted out of class consciousness rather than anti-Semitic motives. In 2013, Corbyn attended a controversial event organized by the Deir Yassin Remembered organization, which commemorated the Deir Jassin massacre and was initiated by the Jewish Holocaust denier Paul Eisen. Corbyn said he did not know about iron but considered the topic of the event to be appropriate. In 2013, Corbyn criticized “British Zionists” at a conference organized by the Palestinian Return Center , but without naming specific personal names or organizations. In a later video segment, he spoke of the “progressive Jewish element” in Great Britain who rejected the Balfour Declaration and recognized that Zionism would only cause difficulties. According to Corbyn, this led some Jews to take a hair-raising position. He later justified himself for using the term Zionism politically exact and not as a synonym for Jude.

In August 2015, The Jewish Chronicle published a list of questions for Corbyn, including his support for Hamas , Hezbollah, and the al-Quds Day demonstrations; the Guardian took up the allegations. Corbyn's spokesman replied that it was the party leader's firm conviction that racist , anti-Semitic and Islamophobic slogans had no place in demonstrations; the Holocaust was the worst phase in history. Regarding his contacts with Hamas and Hezbollah, Corbyn said that he disagreed politically with them and did not collectively refer to them as “friends”. In his attempts to get a peace process in motion in the Middle East, however, he had to involve them as parties involved. The accusation of including anti-Semitic forces in the selection of his interlocutors and supporters was raised more often afterwards, including by the conservative Prime Minister Theresa May .

In 2016, Corbyn said: "Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations." Corbyn was criticized by Israeli politicians and at home, as this statement was interpreted as a comparison between Israel and ISIS .

In October 2016, the Home Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons accused Corbyn of showing insufficient leadership against anti-Semitic statements and thereby favoring them. Corbyn denied this and accused the committee of being biased towards Labor. The sociologist David Hirsh also accused Corbyn of "support for terrorism and tolerance of anti-Semitism".

In March 2018, Jewish communities criticized Corbyn in an open letter for "repeatedly" taking sides for anti-Semitic positions and for being "ideologically so fixated on his far-left worldview" "that he is instinctively hostile to the Jewish communities in the center" . In the same month it was announced that Corbyn and some of his employees were members of a closed Facebook group called Palestine Live until 2015 ; Corbyn himself stated that he only participated selectively and that he had not seen any contributions with anti-Semitic content. A few days later it became known that Corbyn was a member of other Facebook groups with apparently anti-Semitic content; Corbyn said she didn't know about it and left the groups. On July 26, 2018, the Jewish Telegraph, the Jewish News and the Jewish Chronicle wrote: “Since Jeremy Corbyn became chairman of the Labor Party in 2015, the filth and shame of anti-Semitism have prevailed in the opposition party.” 68 rabbis also expressed their fears in an open letter that Corbyn will more or less actively allow stereotypical prejudices also in the future. The background was a document by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance on the definition of anti-Semitism, the criteria of which Corbyn apparently did not want to recognize in part. The party leadership initiated disciplinary proceedings against longtime Labor politician and descendant of Holocaust victims Margaret Hodge after she had called Corbyn an "anti-Semitic racist".

In August 2018, pictures were published that showed Corbyn at a memorial service for the Palestinian terrorists of the Munich Olympic attack in 2014 . In the same month, Labor MP Frank Fields resigned as a whip, citing the fact that the Labor leadership had become a driving force for anti-Semitism in British politics. The party is now governed by a culture of intolerance, malice and intimidation. Corbyn admitted in the same month that there was a "real problem" with anti-Semitism in his party. Labor is working to take action against it, he said. At the party conference in September, he admitted that the anti-Semitism dispute had "caused immense injuries and fears in the Jewish community and led to great resentment in the party." He hopes "we can draw a line together".

The Simon Wiesenthal Center ranked Corbyn's remarks as the fourth worst anti-Semitic incident of the year in 2018. In December 2019, the Labor Party led by Corbyn was ranked number 1 on the list of the ten largest anti-Semitic incidents worldwide by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

In November 2019, longtime Jewish Tory MP and House Speaker John Bercow said he did not believe Corbyn was anti-Semitic. He has known Corbyn for 22 years and got on well with him despite differing political orientations. He never felt a "touch of anti-Semitism" in him. Corbyn is a "pretty likeable person".

Also in November 2019, the British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Corbyn accused Corbyn of not doing enough against anti-Semitism in the Labor Party. “A new poison - approved by the top” has spread throughout the party. This was a "failure of leadership", said Mirvis, because the way the party dealt with anti-Jewish racism was "incompatible with the British values ​​of which we are so proud". In addition, a group of intellectuals, writers and artists published an open letter in the Guardian calling on them not to vote for Corbyn in the upcoming general election because of his anti-Semitic connections. The signatories include the writers John Le Carré and Frederick Forsyth , the historians Anthony Beevor , Peter Frankopan and Tom Holland , the actress Joanna Lumley and the chairman of the organization Muslims against Anti-Semitism .


Corbyn is married for the third time. In 1974 he married Jane Chapman, a former councilor and university professor in media studies. The marriage ended in divorce in 1979. In 1987 he married Claudia Bracchitta, a Chilean exile, for the second time . This marriage resulted in three sons. The marriage was divorced in 1999; one publicly announced reason for this was that the couple could not have agreed on their son's further schooling. Corbyn wanted to send his son to a comprehensive school in their district, his wife had insisted on another school, because the Islington School had failed to meet the educational goals set by the Ministry of Education at the time.

In 2013, Corbyn got his third marriage with the Mexican Laura Álvarez.


  • Mark Perryman (Ed.): The Corbyn Effect. Lawrence & Wishart, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-912064-68-7
  • Armin Pfahl-Traughber : "For the Many, Not the Few": The rise of a "left waffle". The successes of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labor Party. In: perspektiven ds , volume 34, no. 2/2017, pp. 94-105.
  • Rosa Price: Comrade Corbyn. A very unlikely coup: How Jeremy Corbyn Stormed to the Labor Leadership. Biteback Publishing, London 2016, ISBN 978-1-78590-118-8 .
  • Richard Seymour: Corbyn. The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics. Verso, London 2016, ISBN 978-1-78663-299-9 .

Web links

Commons : Jeremy Corbyn  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

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