“Utterly delighted.” “At last, a leader I can believe in.” “A step towards the death of the party.” As Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership by a comprehensive margin on Saturday, we received a wide range of reactions from those who took part in the vote.
Corbyn secured nearly 59.5% of first preference votes, giving him a significant mandate for his anti-austerity and left-leaning policy agenda. This was reflected in your responses: most of those we heard from were happy with the result, though even enthusiastic supporters seemed aware of the scale of the challenge facing the north London MP as he attempts to unite his party and capture the imagination of the wider electorate.
“When I first heard about Jeremy Corbyn I was sceptical. He looked like a geography teacher and his beard wasn’t even fashionable,” said one reader, Karen Murphy, who was won round by Corbyn’s challenge to economic orthodoxy on austerity, despite his apparently unfashionable facial hair.
Here are a selection of your hopes and fears for the future of the party with Corbyn at the helm, as he appoints his shadow cabinet and begins his first working week as leader of the opposition.
We’ve split the responses by which candidates readers backed in the leadership election.
Jeremy Corbyn voters
We heard from more Corbyn voters than all of the other candidates put together, but despite the comprehensive result, there wasn’t a triumphalist tone to the responses we received. Instead, we heard explanations of why Corbyn had reengergised the party base (“I never left the party: the party left me”; “a movement to puncture the Westminister bubble”), plus words of encouragement and advice from younger voters. There was also a sense of relief that the parliamentary party can no longer ignore the views of its membership.
“Finally I feel I have a choice,” said Sam Brazier. “We, the people, have given the party a very clear mandate. They are there to represent us, not dictate how we should think, feel or vote.”
“I’m proud to be a member,” said Riley Cox, an 18 year old member of the party for two years. “I fully support a leader who fights from social justice, the working class, a regulated and fair economy and environmental issues.”
“We have to work as a proper opposition, defending the weak and the vulnerable. I was won over by Jeremy because he proved ideas matter,” said James Wand, a first time voter.
“I believe in [Corbyn’s ability] to create a fairer Britain - a Britain more at ease with itself which does not target the poor, and attempts to make the rich pay their taxes,” says Roy Fox.
“He is a decent man, who is authentic, and not interested in just saying the right thing to the media. I sincerely hope he will carry the momentum through to 2020 and surprise everyone by convincing the floating voters.
“Above all, he has given people hope.”
Andy Burnham voters
Andy Burnham was closest of the three defeated candidates to Corbyn on policy, the former health secretary happy to be associated with rail renationalisation and an end to student tuition fees. This was reflected in the magnanimity of the voters we heard from, who were largely optimistic about Corbyn’s victory.
“I am delighted with the result, said Bryan Ferriman, who sees similarities with the rise of the left in Greece and Spain.
“People throughout Europe are angry that the democratic process has been stolen from them... Corbyn must work with others whose view we share. The left works through numbers and not money or influence”
“I like a lot of what Corbyn says, but he will need the help of all of the party and all of his MPs to turn them into workable policies, and he will need to moderate and compromise,” said David Whittle, a former secondary school teacher.
“I admire Jeremy for his straight talking and agree with many of his policies but was concerned about his foreign policy,” said Peggoty Houghton-Hill.
“I care passionately about education, managed locally, I care passionately about the NHS and protecting it from the dreadful TTIP. Andy spoke clearly about these issues and I decided to vote for him.
“I will be devastated if some of the Westminster crowd make it hard for Jeremy. He won. They need to support the democratic process and not plot behind his back.”
Yvette Cooper voters
Supporters of Yvette Cooper we heard from conceded that she may have suffered from assocations with the previous Labour government, but were, in the main, concerned by the electoral implications of Corbyn’s victory.
“The Tories and Tory press were scared stiff that Yvette would get in as the only heavyweight and credible candidate - hence the lack of media interest in her campaign,” said Dee Smith.
“Disenchanted labour supporters will just have to wait patiently until Corbynmania runs its course.”
Others feared that Corbyn is in danger of preaching to the converted.
“The electorate is made up of an entirely different demographic to the vast majority of those that voted for Corbyn,” says Kiran Tiwana, a paediatric dietitian from London.
“He is deluding himself that his victory is representative of a wide, far reaching, social movement demanding sweeping changes in the politics of this country. The trade union movement, as much as I love and respect it, is so much weaker now than it was in the 1980s and even then we could not win a general election because we were too left of centre.
“We now live in a culture that is all about consumerism, service industries, designer labels and reality TV. The vast majority of the electorate are not going to be excited by a far from charismatic Labour leader who looks like he is from a bygone era and espouses policies from such a time.
Some Cooper supporters were more optimistic that Corbyn will be able to help the party shake off its complacency.
“I have always been a Labour supporter but became very disillusioned and could not, with hand on heart have told you who or what they were representing prior to the election,” admitted Wynn Whitehead.
“Corbyn will, I hope, provide a kick up the backside to the Parliamentary Labour Party who clearly distanced themselves from voters and therefore had no idea what their concerns were.
“I just hope Corbyn can survive the monstering the right wing press will give him.”
The Blairites’ champion won a startlingly small amount of the vote. Some Kendall backers in the parliamentary party have taken to calling themselves “the 4.5%” in ironic reference to the losing percentage in the Scottish independence referendum. Most Kendall supporters we heard from despaired at the leadership result - though some acknowledged a degree of admiration and common ground.
“There is much I admire in Jeremy Corbyn - his refusal to conform to the political stereotype, they way in which he sticks by his principles and communicates his views in a refreshingly un-Westminster way, his views on social-justice and inequality.” says Morgan Dye.
“There is also much I don’t agree with him on, in particular his international outlook - his tepid warmth for remaining in the EU, his views on Trident renewal and NATO.
“We can’t assume that this elation [at Corbyn’s win] is felt at a national level in anyway. I think it’s important to have a Labour Party that can win - it’s a lot harder to save the NHS, improve education and improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society from the opposition benches, whilst the Tories tear the country apart in pursuit of their ideological obsessions. I’m just not convinced that Corbyn has the broad appeal that is needed to win over voters who have turned away from Labour over the years.
“In my local constituency party meeting the Corbyn supporters had a more religious attitude: we’re right and the voters need to learn that,” says Paul Shevlane, who thinks Labour under Corbyn will fail to appeal beyond public sector workers and union members.
“Until there is proportional representation keeping the Tories out of power is the number one priority. Blairism messed up on Iraq but otherwise was gradually moving the centre ground. I am more depressed about the Labour movement than at any point in the last 25 years.”
This article was written by James Walsh and Guardian readers, for theguardian.com on Monday 14th September 2015 15.55 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010