London, Sep 12 (IANS) Veteran left-wing MP Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party by a landslide on Saturday.
Corbyn, 66, beat three contenders in the leadership race, two of them high level members of Labour’s front-bench team, Xinhua news agency reported.
Corbyn captured 251,417 votes, just under 60 percent of the 422,664 votes cast.
His victory came when the results of the four-way fight were announced at a special Labour conference. The result rocked the Labour establishment to its very core, sending shock waves through the party hierarchy.
Content with lurking on the back benches in Parliament since becoming MP for the London constituency in Islington North in 1983, Corbyn came into the political limelight when he was persuaded at the last minute to enter the leadership race.
Corbyn’s participation was seen as a side-show, giving party members a wider choice in the election.
Labour changed its rules to allow people to become party supporters, paying three pounds ($4.6) to earn a vote. The party membership rocketed, with hundreds of thousands joining, most of them backing Corbyn.
Suddenly theatres and public arenas across the country were crammed to capacity as people, particularly younger supporters, cheered Corbyn as the new political “Messiah”.
The son of a couple who met during the Spanish Civil War, the Grammar school educated politician never went to university and is famed for defying Labour bosses in parliament more than any other MP.
He became a vegetarian at 20 after a spell working on a pig farm, does not own a car but cycles everywhere instead, is described as left wing and writes a regular column in the Morning Star newspaper.
He is opposed to nuclear weapons and wants to see the cancellation of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons programme. This year it was reported he had married a Mexican coffee importer, Laura Alvarez, 20 years younger than him. She became his third wife after two broken marriages.
He is teetotaller and a supporter of the London premiership team, Arsenal, and is five times winner of Parliament’s “beard of the year” contest.
An anti-monarchist, he once asked former prime minister Tony Blair to remove the Royal Family from Buckingham Palace.