On June 8, 2017, the United Kingdom’s governing Conservative Party called a snap election in an attempt to gain a larger majority in Parliament.
Up until the day of the election, it was expected that this would be the result, since the Tories were leading in the polls.Their largest opposition, the Labour Party, was led by Jeremy Corbyn, a man many considered too far left to be electable— a self-proclaimed socialist who not only supports the nationalization of public utilities but who has also criticized Israel as an apartheid state.
On the day of the election, the story changed. Under Corbyn, the Labour Party gained 30 new seats in parliament and saw the biggest increase in vote share since 1945. Meanwhile, the Tories were forced to form a minority government. Critics of Corbyn, both inside and outside of his party, were stunned. How did this leftist firebrand achieve such success against all the odds?
Contrary to conventional neoliberal wisdom, which was dominated the politics of the U.S. and U.K. for the past few decades, Corbyn’s electoral success did not occur in spite of leftist leanings, but rather because of them.
Under “New Labour” Blairite leadership, which sustained platforms that gutted welfare and promoted mass privatization, Labour failed to gain a single seat since 1997. Meanwhile, Corbyn campaigned on a platform of increasing spending for healthcare and education, while fighting wealth inequality and austerity measures.