He promised to shake up the UK’s political system.
Something new, invigorating, popular and authentic has exploded
And on Tuesday, in his first party conference speech as new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn delivered.
There was no apology for the Iraq war just yet, as some had predicted, but the veteran left-winger was scathing about it and Britain’s possession of nuclear weapons – arguments that helped him come from nowhere to secure a landslide leadership win earlier this month.
“What happened this summer in the Labour leadership election was nothing short of a political earthquake,” he told delegates to the annual conference in the southern English city of Brighton
“According to the script, Socialists and Social Democratic parties were in decline. Social Democracy itself was dead on its feet. Yet something new, invigorating, popular and authentic has exploded.”
Corbyn, 66, pledged to listen to the thousands of new members who have joined Labour since he ran for leader, many of them younger voters disillusioned with establishment politics.
He said he would challenge the Conservative government’s austerity policies, accusing
David Cameron’s administration of favouring the rich and squandering the UK’s weight in global affairs by offering “fawning support” to foreign governments which crush democratic rights.
After controversy over Corbyn’s decision not to sing the National Anthem at a World War Two remembrance service this month,
he defended his patriotic credentials and issued a call for kindness.
“It is that sense of fair play, those shared majority values in Britain that are a fundamental reason why I love this country and its people,” Corbyn said.
“These are the values I was elected on. A kinder politics, a more caring society, these are Labour values, they are our country’s values and we are going to put these values back into the heart of politics in this country.”
Doing things differently went down well among those loyal to Britain’s main opposition party, in a speech that saw much applause and standing ovations.
But the Corbyn factor will have to please the broader electorate if Labour, badly beaten in May’s general election, is to ever return to power.