The Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn has said he will run for the party leadership on a “clear anti-austerity platform”.
The Islington North MP said he was standing after grassroots Labour members said they wanted to see a broader range of candidates in the running to replace Ed Miliband after Labour’s worst electoral performance since 1983.
Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh have already thrown their hats into the ring, but many Labour supporters see those candidates as too closely linked to the pro-business agenda of Tony Blair.
In a brief statement provided to Islington Tribune reporter Koos Couvée, Corbyn said: “This decision to stand is in response to an overwhelming call by Labour party members who want to see a broader range of candidates and a thorough debate about the future of the party.
“I am standing to give Labour party members a voice in this debate.”
Corbyn, 66, had earlier attended a party event in Islington where he first made clear his intention to stand. According to a tweet, the entire room erupted when they realised the MP had decided to run.
A key figure in the Labour Left faction, Corbyn has been a vocal campaigner against war and nuclear weapons. He is a senior member of the socialist Campaign Group in the Commons and has vowed to vote against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
His entry into the race puts him significantly to the left of the other candidates. Even Burnham, hitherto seen as the most leftwing candidate, has suggested he might back welfare cuts.
Corbyn told the Mirror that he would offer a “different economic strategy, particularly opposing austerity.”
Corbyn said the four already declared candidates were too similar, adding: “They are not offering a clear enough alternative on the economic strategy and austerity, and our attitude to welfare expenditure.”
There is uncertainty within the Labour party of the best course back to government after some accused Miliband of moving to the left and costing them votes. But Corbyn bucked the trend, increasing his majority in Islington North by 5.8%.
In a blogpost after the 7 May poll, Corbyn said Miliband had made some brilliant points on issues such as housing, wages and education during the campaign.
“The problem was that while George Osborne was claiming that austerity was working and thus ignoring the inequality and poverty created, Ed Balls was in essence saying that the only difference in Labour’s policy was that his economic strategy would simply take longer to deal with the deficit,” he wrote.
“He was not offering to restore the funding that the Tories have cut in local government particularly, or reverse cuts to benefits over the past five years.”
In March, a police whistleblower revealed Corbyn, a vice-chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and chairman of the Stop the War coalition, was one of three Labour MPs he collected information on.
“They were in meetings and I was there and they were talking about things and that is what I reported on,” Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer, said.
Corbyn has been one of the most rebellious Labour MPs, defying the whips 238 times.
This article was written by Damien Gayle, for theguardian.com on Thursday 4th June 2015 01.21 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010