Jeremy Corbyn has been overwhelmingly elected as leader of the Labour Party.
The long-time frontrunner, who was a last-minute entrant to the contest after just securing enough nominations, won on first round votes with 59.5% of votes cast.
In a result which marks a fundamental change of direction for the party, the Islington North MP defeated rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in the first round of counting, taking 251,417 (59.5%) of the 422,664 votes cast.
The left-winger, whose platform includes opposition to austerity and the renewal of trident and support for nationalisation of the railways, had started the campaign as a 100/1 outsider in a contest that also featured.
Mr Corbyn paid tribute to interim leader Harriet Harman, his predecessor Mr Miliband and his three leadership rivals, making a point of praising Ms Cooper for her intervention in the migrant crisis when she was the first major politician to demand that Britain takes in 10,000 Syrian refugees.
He announced he will attend a “Refugees Welcome Here” rally in London once the leadership conference is over.
He said: “My first act as leader of the party will be to go to the demonstration this afternoon to show support for the way refugees should be treated and must be treated in this country.”
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The result was announced at a special conference this afternoon after months of at times bitter campaigning that brought warnings from party grandees of catastrophic consequences for the party if Corbyn emerged victorious. While critics claimed Corbyn’s policy platform harked backed to past times, his approach and style attracted many to sign up to vote for him amid a wave of what become known as ‘Corbynmania’.
Communal concerns have grown during the campaign amid countless revelations about his defense of or decision to share platforms with various extremists and anti-Semites. The MP for Islington North, one of the Parliament’s most outspoken critics of Israel, has also described Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends” – explaining it as “a term of diplomacy as an aid to dialogue rather than…an endorsement of a set of views”.
During the campaign, Corbyn withdrew from a scheduled appearance at a conference on Palestine at which a cartoonist, who once finished second in Iran’s Holocaust cartoon contest, was on the bill. He has also highlighted his credentials in the fight against the BNP an the National Front and pledged to work with Jewish community leaders in the fight against anti-Semitism.
But Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush said: “The Jewish community has some very deep concerns about reported links to a Holocaust denier, and other individuals with anti-Semitic track records, and about his hostile views on Israel.”
“We would like Jeremy Corbyn to give straight answers to straight questions, and repudiate any sort of support for links to anti-Semites, racists and terrorists.”
In final stages of the campaign, a senior community leader and former Labour councillor called for Jeremy Corbyn to publicly acknowledge he made a mistake in associating with extremists,
Rabbi Pinter, a member of the London Jewish Forum who has been a party member for nearly four decades, told the Jewish News: “He needs to be big enough to say made a mistake in associating with these people. If you want to be a leader you have that capacity. I’m confident he will show the magnanimity to do that.” Failure to do so, he added, would create “a very difficult situation” with the community.
Mr Corbyn faced his first front bench resignation within moments of his victory, as shadow health spokesman Jamie Reed. Cooper was then joined by Rachel Reeves, Emma Reynolds and Jamie Reed in announcing they would not serve on the frontbench. Liz Kendall, Tristram Hunt and Chris Leslie had already indicated their political differences with Mr Corbyn, which would prevent them serving under his leadership in the cabinet.
Corbyn’s immediate predecessor Ed Miliband called on the party to support Corbyn but said that he too would not seek a return to the frontline.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna – a senior centrist who withdrew from the contest after a matter of days – issued a plea for the party to “come together” behind its new leader “and focus on providing the most credible and effective opposition to the Tories”.