World

Labour loss still a triumph for Corbyn

WATFORD, ENGLAND: Mr Jeremy Corbyn's opposition Labour Party may have come in second in Thursday's general election, but the results amount to a stunning triumph for a far-left leader whom many believed was headed for political oblivion.

Because Labour was preparing for a crushing defeat, the outcome suggested by early returns will be cast by Mr Corbyn's supporters as a clear victory for the embattled leader and the leftist ideas he champions.

The result may paradoxically be seen as Labour's death knell by those who want a new direction for a party that has not won a general election in 12 years.

"What the early results mean is that Corbyn has got more life in him than anybody might have thought," said political history Professor Steven Fielding of the University of Nottingham and an expert on the Labour Party.

"He has lost, but it means that he is probably safe from an immediate effort to get rid of him. It is (British Prime Minister) Theresa May who now has no capital with her party."

Mr James Morris, a pollster who used to work for Labour, credited Mr Corbyn's "disciplined populism" for the party's performance.

He noted that Labour went into the campaign 20 points behind the Conservative Party.

Mr Corbyn began the campaign with historically low favourability numbers.

But he rose in the polls as Mrs May was forced to reverse herself on central campaign promises, such as a plan to make major changes to how the elderly pay for their social benefits.

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn proved effective on the stump, and tapped into the enthusiasm of youth.

"People thought he was useless, incompetent and extremist," said Mr John Curtice, a leading British pollster.

"He ends up turning out a better manifesto than the Conservatives, and he can campaign well enough. Those who are not unsympathetic to the Labour Party have said he is not so bad after all."

Mr Corbyn has been MP for Islington North in central London since 1983. - WIRE SERVICES

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