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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Bernard Corbyn, born 26 May 1949) is a British politician, Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Islington North since 1983 and was elected Labour Leader in 2015. Ideologically, he identifies as a democratic socialist.

Born in Chippenham, Wiltshire, Corbyn attended Adams' Grammar School and later North London Polytechnic, though he did not complete his degree. Before entering politics he worked as a representative for various trade unions. His political career began when he was elected to Haringey Council in 1974; later he became secretary of the Islington Constituency Labour Party (CLP). He continued in both roles until he entered the House of Commons as an MP.

Corbyn has received awards for his work as an international human rights campaigner. As a backbench MP he was known for his activism and rebelliousness, frequently voting against the Labour whip when the party was in government under centrist New Labour leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. As Labour Leader, Corbyn advocates a platform of reversing austerity cuts to public services and welfare funding made since 2010, and proposes renationalisation of public utilities and the railways. A longstanding anti-war and anti-nuclear activist, Corbyn supports a foreign policy of military non-interventionism and unilateral nuclear disarmament. Corbyn is a member of Amnesty International, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He was the national chair of the Stop the War Coalition from June 2011 until September 2015. He was a member of the Socialist Campaign Group until his election as leader of the Labour Party.

After Labour's defeat in the 2015 general election and the resignation of Ed Miliband, Corbyn announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Labour Party on 6 June 2015. Although he was regarded as a fringe hopeful in the leadership election—having only just secured sufficient nominations from fellow Labour MPs to be placed on the ballot—Corbyn quickly emerged as the leading candidate in opinion polls and secured the support of the majority of trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party. He was elected Leader of the Labour Party on 12 September 2015, with an overwhelming vote of 59.5% in the first round of the ballot.

Corbyn became known in the 1980s for his work on behalf of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, who were eventually found to have been wrongly convicted of responsibility for a series of bombings carried out in England in the mid-1970s by the PIRA that killed 28 people. Corbyn supported the campaign to overturn the convictions of Jawad Botmeh and Samar Alami for the 1994 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in London; Botmeh and Alami had admitted possessing explosives and guns but denied they were for use in Britain. The convictions were upheld by the High Court of Justice in 2001 and by the European Court of Human Rights in 2007.

Corbyn was a well-known campaigner against apartheid in South Africa, serving on the National Executive of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and was arrested in 1984 while demonstrating outside South Africa House.

After being elected leader on 12 September 2015, Corbyn became Leader of the Official Opposition. On 14 September 2015, his appointment to the Privy Council was announced. Two days later Corbyn engaged in his first Prime Minister's Questions session as leader and broke with the traditional format by asking the Prime Minister six questions he had received from members of the public, the result of his invitation to Labour Party members to send suggestions, for which he received around 40,000 emails. Corbyn stressed his desire to reduce the "theatrical" nature of the House of Commons, and his debut was described by The Guardian as "a good start" and a "long overdue" change to the tone of PMQs. He delivered his first Labour Annual Conference address as leader on 29 September 2015. As Leader of the Opposition he was made a member of the Privy Council on 11 November 2015.

In 2013, Corbyn was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Award for his "consistent efforts over a 30-year parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non‐violence."In the same year, he was honoured by the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative for his "ongoing support for a number of non-government organisations and civil causes". Corbyn has won the Parliamentary "Beard of the Year Award" a record six times, as well as being named as the Beard Liberation Front's Beard of the Year, having previously described his beard as "a form of dissent" against New Labour.

In January 2016 it was announced that a satirical musical based on Corbyn's life, and written by Rupert Myers and Bobby Friedman, would be staged at the Waterloo East Theatre in London later in the year. BBC News suggested that Corbyn the Musical: The Motorcycle Diaries "may be the first stage show written about a leader of the opposition".

In 1974, Corbyn married Jane Chapman, a fellow Labour Councillor for Haringey and now a professor at the University of Lincoln; they divorced in 1979. In 1987, Corbyn married Chilean-born Claudia Bracchitta, granddaughter of Ricardo Bracchitta (Cónsul General de España en Santiago) and niece of Dr Óscar Soto Guzman, by whom he has three sons. Following a difference of opinion about sending their son to a grammar school – Corbyn opposes selective education – they divorced in 1999, although Corbyn said in June 2015 that he continues to "get on very well" with his former wife. His son subsequently attended Queen Elizabeth's School, which was his wife's first choice. In 2013, Corbyn married his long-term domestic partner Laura Álvarez, a Mexican émigrée who runs a fair-trade coffee import business. Álvarez has described Corbyn as "not very good at house work but he is a good politician".

Interviewed by The Huffington Post in December 2015, Corbyn refused to say what his religious beliefs were, saying that they were a "private thing", while denying that he was an atheist. He described his concerns about the environment as a sort of "spiritualism". Corbyn has described himself as frugal, telling Simon Hattenstone of The Guardian, "I don't spend a lot of money, I lead a very normal life, I ride a bicycle and I don't have a car". He has been vegetarian since the age of 20, following a stint working on a pig farm in Jamaica. Although he has been described in the media as teetotal, he said in an interview with the Mirror newspaper that he does drink but "very, very little".

Corbyn is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling. He enjoys reading and writing, and speaks fluent Spanish. He supports Arsenal F.C., based in his constituency, and has signed parliamentary motions praising the successes of the club's men's and women's teams. He named Jens Lehmann, Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp as his favourite Arsenal players, and has campaigned for the club to pay its staff a living wage.

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