Person

Jeremy Corbyn

Official portrait of Jeremy Corbyn MP (2020) https://members.parliament.uk/member/185/portrait Author: Richard Townsend
Nationality:

English

Born:

1949

Occupation:

Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

Party:

Independent

Residence:

Finsbury Park, London

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 Jeremy Corbyn is, as of 2024, a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom and former leader of the left-of-center Labour Party. 1 In 2020, Corbyn was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party, and in 2023, the Party’s National Executive Committee barred him from receiving the Labour Party endorsement in the U.K. general election expected before early 2025. 2

Corbyn has been involved with left-of-center and radical-left campaigns, including joining the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament while in school in 1966. He is also a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and chaired the Stop the War Coalition. Corbyn has noted his admiration for Karl Marx, stating that Marx was “a fascinating figure who observed a great deal and from whom we can learn a great deal,” while talking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr. 3

An investigation into antisemitism within the Labour Party was conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2019. The investigation concluded that there were “serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints” within the Labour Party, adding that it had concluded there were “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” while under Corbyn’s leadership.  The report added that “it is hard not to conclude that antisemitism within the Labour Party could have been tackled more effectively if the leadership had chosen to do so.” 4

Corbyn has been criticized for allegedly aligning with Islamists, including making a salute attributed to the Muslim Brotherhood, 5 taking part in a conference in Qatar hosted by a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organization, 6 and having called Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” during a 2009 meeting in parliament. 7

Early Life

Jeremy Corbyn is a British politician who has served as a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom since 1983. He attended Castle House, a prep school, in Newport, England, before moving to Adams Grammar School in Newport. During his time in school, Corbyn joined his local chapter of the Labour Party, the major left-of-center party in the U.K., and the Young Socialists, a Labour Party youth organization. 8

Corbyn worked as a geography teacher at Kingston College, Jamaica, between 1967 and 1968 as a volunteer for what was then known as Britain’s Voluntary Service Overseas, a nonprofit organization that focused on international development. 9

After returning to the U.K., Corbyn began a course in Trade Union Studies at North London Polytechnic, although he left due to several arguments with his tutors regarding the curriculum. He initially worked for the now-defunct National Union of Tailors and Garment Makers, after which he became an organizer with the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union and then the National Union of Public Employees. 10

Corbyn began his career in politics in 1974, when he was elected to the Haringey District Council in North London. According to the BBC, Corbyn was “firmly on the side of the quasi-Marxist hard left” during the Labour Party split of the late 1970s and early 1980s, adding that he “found common cause with former Trotskyists” and joined with them to push the Labour Party further to the left. 11

The Labour Party lost the 1983 general election with what the BBC has described as “arguably the most left-wing manifesto it had ever put before the British public.” The manifesto included renationalizing utilities privatized by the incumbent government led by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, nuclear disarmament, and pulling out of the European Union. Due to the loss of the election, the Labour Party began to focus on “modernisation,” which led to the rise of the New Labour faction. 12

The BBC claims that Corbyn would attach himself “to any cause that felt like it would strike a blow against British and American ‘imperialism’ or the Israeli state.” Corbyn, alongside other members of the Labour Party who shared similar ideas with him, publicly supported socialist campaigns and governments around the world, including in Cuba, El Salvador, and Chile. 13

Early in his career, Corbyn invited two former prisoners associated with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to speak in parliament. The IRA had committed terrorism across the U.K., including bombing Westminster Hall of the Houses of Parliament on June 17, 1974, injuring eleven people. 14 15

Corbyn invited the two former IRA prisoners to speak at parliament just two weeks after a bomb attack targeting then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and members of her cabinet that killed five Conservative Party members, including one Member of Parliament. 16 17

Corbyn has also been involved with left-of-center campaigns, including joining the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament while in school in 1966. He is also a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and chaired the Stop the War Coalition. 18

Corbyn has noted his admiration for Karl Marx, stating that Marx was “a fascinating figure who observed a great deal and from whom we can learn a great deal,” while talking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr. 19

Parliamentary Career

As of March 2024, Corbyn has been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Islington North, a constituency in North London, since June 9, 1983. Initially, Corbyn was a Labour Party MP for the area but has sat as an independent since October 29, 2020, after he was suspended from the Labour Party for claiming that complaints of antisemitism within the party were “dramatically overstated.” Corbyn’s Labour Party membership was later reinstated, although Labour Party leader Kier Starmer refused to restore the party whip, meaning as of March 2024, Corbyn sits as an independent MP. 20 21

Committees and Coalitions

As a member of Parliament, Corbyn served on the Social Security Committee from 1992 until 2007, the London Regional Select Committee from 2009 until 2010, and the Justice Committee between 2011 and 2015. 22

As of February 2024, Corbyn is a member of the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe and the UK Socialist Campaign Group. He is also vice president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and according to his website, is a “regular participant” at the United Nations Human Rights Council. 23

Leader of the Opposition

Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party on September 12, 2015, replacing Ed Miliband, making him the Leader of the Opposition. The BBC noted that the Labour Party had “undoubtedly moved to the left under Ed Miliband’s leadership,” but the intake of new MPs to the Labour Party in 2015 was considered “the most left-leaning in 20 years.” 24

Corbyn’s leadership campaign was assisted by left-of-center organizations such as the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, a left-of-center anti-austerity organization that was launched in 2013 by a signed letter to the Guardian newspaper. The signatories of the letter included Corbyn; Bill Greenshields, the chairman of the Communist Party of Britain; and Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite the Union, a left-of-center labor union, and the largest in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Unite the Union is the largest individual donor to the Labour Party. 25 26 27

Corbyn won the Labour Party leadership with 59.5 percent of the party membership voting for him, three times more votes than any other candidate. By the end of June 2016, 23 out of the 31 members of his shadow cabinet, a senior group of spokespeople from the opposition party that constitutes an alternative cabinet opposed to the incumbent government, had resigned. Following those resignations, the Labour Party held another leadership election that Corbyn won with 61.8 percent of the vote. 28

During the snap general election in 2017, Corbyn’s Labour Party campaign released what is considered one of the most left-leaning manifestos seen in decades. Although the Labour Party did not win the election, Corbyn’s campaign resulted in a hung parliament, meaning that no party had enough seats in parliament for an outright majority. The Conservative Party under then-Prime Minister Theresa May continued in office with support from the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. 29 30

Initially, Corbyn and the Labour Party were pushing for a “soft Brexit,” meaning that Britain would share a customs union with the European Union (EU), despite the British public voting to leave the EU entirely in June 2016. The party switched its policy on Brexit in 2019, instead advocating for a second referendum. Corbyn’s 2019 election campaign ended with the worst general-election defeat for the Labour Party since 1935. Corbyn stepped down as the leader of the Labour Party after his defeat. 31

Controversies

Antisemitism in the Labour Party

Eight Labour Party MPs left the party in February 2019 due to Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism and Brexit. The Equality and Human Rights Commission launched an official investigation into the Labour Party’s handling of antisemitism in May 2019. 32

The investigation into the Labour Party aimed to “determine whether the Labour Party committed a breach of the Equality Act 2010, related to Jewish ethnicity or Judaism, against its members, associates or guests, through the actions of its employees or agents.” The investigation also looked into whether the party “handled antisemitism complaints lawfully, efficiently and effectively.” 33

The Equality and Human Rights Commission found “serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints” within the Labour Party, adding that it had concluded there had been “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.” The summary of the investigation noted that there was a “culture within the Party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.” 34

It was not the first investigation of the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership. The Equality and Human Rights Commission noted that there were three investigations into antisemitism within the Labour Party in 2016, and since then, the party had “failed to implement” the recommendations it received from those investigations or to “take effective measures” to stop antisemitism, adding that many concerns raised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in its 2019 analysis of the issue were made in the 2016 reports. 35

The report also noted that staff members from Corbyn’s office were able to “influence decisions on complaints, especially decisions on whether to suspend someone.” The investigation concluded that although the Labour Party had made “some improvements” regarding antisemitism, “it is hard not to conclude that antisemitism within the Labour Party could have been tackled more effectively if the leadership had chosen to do so.” 36

Corbyn rejected the findings of the investigation, claiming that antisemitism within the Labour Party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by the media and opponents of the party. Corbyn was suspended from the Labour Party, but his membership was “reinstated by his a panel of the party’s governing body,” after 19 days. 37 38

Muslim Brotherhood

Jeremy Corbyn has been criticized for associating with propaganda aligned with the Sunni Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. A photograph published by the Daily Telegraph in 2018 showed Corbyn holding up his hand while making the four-fingered Rabbi’ah salute used by the Muslim Brotherhood to protest the military coup d’etat against Brotherhood-backed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Corbyn’s spokesperson claimed that the salute is “a well-known symbol of solidarity with the victims of the 2013 Rabaa massacre in Cairo.” 39

Corbyn also took part in a conference in Qatar hosted by a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organization. According to The National, a publication owned by a United Arab Emirates government official, Corbyn noted in an interview with the Iranian government-owned Press TV that he had met with several “brothers” of Hamas during a 2012 conference in Doha called “Palestinian Refugees in the Arab World.” The event was organized by the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Centre for Studies. 40

Hamas operatives and officials attended the conference, including Husam Badran, who was imprisoned for terrorist attacks on Israel; Khalid Mishaal, a former Hamas politburo leader who is on a U.K. sanctions list; and Abdul Aziz Umar, who received seven life sentences for his role in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, but was released as part of a prisoner swap with Israel in 2011. 41

During his interview with Press TV, Corbyn stated that he was “glad that those who were released were released,” adding that he had “met many of the brothers, including the brother who’s been speaking here when they came out of prison, when I was in Doha earlier this year.” 42

Corbyn also called Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” during a 2009 meeting in Parliament. Corbyn claims that he used the term “friends” because he “spoke at a meeting about the Middle East crisis in Parliament and there were people there from Hezbollah and I said I welcomed our friends from Hezbollah to have a discussion and a debate,” adding that he wanted Hamas to also be a part of the debate. Corbyn added that he had met with Hamas in Lebanon and Hezbollah in Lebanon and the United Kingdom. 43

During a 2016 Parliamentary investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party, Corbyn told his fellow MPs that he used “inclusive language” while referring to Hamas and Hezbollah as friends, which he then claimed to regret. 44

References

  1. “About me – Jeremy Corbyn MP.” Accessed February 26, 2024. https://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/43-2/about-me/.
  2. Francis, Sam. “Jeremy Corbyn Banned from Standing as Candidate for Labour Party.” BBC News, March 28, 2023. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-65102128.
  3. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  4. “Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party.” Equality and Human Rights Commission. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/investigation-into-antisemitism-in-the-labour-party.pdf.
  5. “Corbyn was ‘standing up for democracy’ by giving Islamists’ salute, Labour says.” ITV. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.itv.com/news/2018-08-15/corbyn-was-standing-up-for-democracy-by-giving-islamists-salute-labour-says.
  6. Prentis, Jamie. “Corbyn attended event with convicted Hamas killers.” August 20, 2018. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/corbyn-attended-event-with-convicted-hamas-killers-1.761966.
  7. “Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn: Why I called Hamas our friends.” The Jewish Chronicle. November 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.thejc.com/news/labours-jeremy-corbyn-why-i-called-hamas-our-friends-jag6fwha.
  8. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  9. “JEREMY CORBYN’S MYSTERY LIFE IN JAMAICA – UPDATED.” Jamaica Global. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.jamaicaglobalonline.com/jeremy-corbyns-mystery-life-in-jamaica/.
  10. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  11. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  12. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  13. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  14. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  15. “Archived – Bomb in London Damages Oldest Hall of Parliament.” New York Times. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.nytimes.com/1974/06/18/archives/bomb-in-london-damages-oldest-hall-of-parliament-londons.html.
  16. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  17. “The Deadly Hotel Bombing That Margaret Thatcher Survived in 1984 | CBC.” CBCnews, October 12, 2023. https://www.cbc.ca/archives/the-deadly-hotel-bombing-that-margaret-thatcher-survived-in-1984-1.5314562.
  18. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  19. Wheeler, Brian. “The Jeremy Corbyn Story: Profile of Labour leader.” BBC News. September 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34184265.
  20. “Parliamentary Career for Jeremy Corbyn.” Members of Parliament. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://members.parliament.uk/member/185/career.
  21. Crerar, Pippa. “Jeremy Corbyn will not stand for Labour at next election, Keir Starmer to confirm.” The Guardian. March 27, 2023. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/mar/27/jeremy-corbyn-not-stand-labour-next-election-keir-starmer.
  22. “About me – Jeremy Corbyn MP.” Accessed February 26, 2024. https://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/43-2/about-me/.
  23. “About me – Jeremy Corbyn MP.” Accessed February 26, 2024. https://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/43-2/about-me/.
  24. News, BBC. “Jeremy Corbyn elected Labour leader: How did he win?.” BBC News. September 12, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34126758.
  25. News, BBC. “Jeremy Corbyn elected Labour leader: How did he win?.” BBC News. September 12, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34126758.
  26. “About.” The Peoples Assembly. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/about/.
  27. “Labour’s biggest donor hit by legislation on political funds.” Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.ft.com/content/65bcbc62-d89b-11e9-8f9b-77216ebe1f17.
  28. “Jeremy Corbyn – All You Need to Know.” Politics.co.uk. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.politics.co.uk/reference/jeremy-corbyn/.
  29. “Jeremy Corbyn – All You Need to Know.” Politics.co.uk. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.politics.co.uk/reference/jeremy-corbyn/.
  30. Hunt, Alex. “Theresa May and the DUP Deal: What You Need to Know.” BBC News, June 26, 2017. https://www.bbc.com/news/election-2017-40245514.
  31. “Jeremy Corbyn – All You Need to Know.” Politics.co.uk. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.politics.co.uk/reference/jeremy-corbyn/.
  32. “Jeremy Corbyn – All You Need to Know.” Politics.co.uk. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.politics.co.uk/reference/jeremy-corbyn/.
  33. “Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party.” Equality and Human Rights Commission. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/investigation-into-antisemitism-in-the-labour-party.pdf.
  34. “Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party.” Equality and Human Rights Commission. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/investigation-into-antisemitism-in-the-labour-party.pdf.
  35. “Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party.” Equality and Human Rights Commission. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/investigation-into-antisemitism-in-the-labour-party.pdf.
  36. “Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party.” Equality and Human Rights Commission. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/investigation-into-antisemitism-in-the-labour-party.pdf.
  37. Elgot, Jessica. “Jeremy Corbyn rejects overall findings of EHRC report on antisemitism in Labour.” The Guardian. October 29, 2020. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/oct/29/jeremy-corbyn-rejects-findings-of-report-on-antisemitism-in-labour.
  38. Elgot, Jessica. “Labour reinstates Jeremy Corbyn after suspension over antisemitism remarks.” The Guardian. November 17, 2020. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/nov/17/labour-reinstates-jeremy-corbyn-after-suspension-over-antisemitism-remarks.
  39. “Corbyn was ‘standing up for democracy’ by giving Islamists’ salute, Labour says.” ITV. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.itv.com/news/2018-08-15/corbyn-was-standing-up-for-democracy-by-giving-islamists-salute-labour-says.
  40. Prentis, Jamie. “Corbyn attended event with convicted Hamas killers.” August 20, 2018. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/corbyn-attended-event-with-convicted-hamas-killers-1.761966.
  41. Prentis, Jamie. “Corbyn attended event with convicted Hamas killers.” August 20, 2018. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/corbyn-attended-event-with-convicted-hamas-killers-1.761966.
  42. Prentis, Jamie. “Corbyn attended event with convicted Hamas killers.” August 20, 2018. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/corbyn-attended-event-with-convicted-hamas-killers-1.761966.
  43. [1] “Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn: Why I called Hamas our friends.” The Jewish Chronicle. November 24, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.thejc.com/news/labours-jeremy-corbyn-why-i-called-hamas-our-friends-jag6fwha.
  44. Syal, Rajeev. “Jeremy Corbyn says he regrets calling Hamas and Hezbollah ‘friends’.” The Guardian. July 4, 2016. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/04/jeremy-corbyn-says-he-regrets-calling-hamas-and-hezbollah-friends.
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