Listen: Is Iain Dale to thank for Jeremy Corbyn leading Labour?
Jeremy Corbyn has been elected to lead the Labour party with an overwhelming majority – but did radio host Iain Dale spark his ambition?
Mr Corbyn went from being an unlikely outsider in the race to succeed Ed Miliband to the firm favourite – winning the contest outright in the first round of voting today.
But should the MP for Islington North – who insisted previously he had no ambition to be leader – be thanking radio host and former Conservative candidate Iain Dale?
Speaking on LBC on May 9 – the day after Ed Miliband stepped down, and a month before Mr Corbyn threw his hat into the ring – the left-winger was asked for the first time about his chances.
Reading a message from a listener, Dale asked him: “Sarah in London has a suggestion, she says ‘Many people would love Jeremy Corbyn to run’…”
Mr Corbyn responded: “She sounds a wonderful person, but I’m not sure the rest of the world would want Jeremy Corbyn to run!
Dale responds: “In all seriousness, someone from your side of the party – John McDonnell has done this before.
“Someone who is not seen as New Labour or anything like it. I think it would actually enhance the debate!
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“I don’t know who it would be apart from yourself – we’ll put the thought in your mind, and take full credit if you do decide to run.”
The new leader is thought to have first decided to run after meeting with other left-wing MPs, and conceding that it is ‘his turn’ – following crushing defeats for left-wingers John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, in 2006 and 2010 respectively.
Mr Corbyn was one of the country’s first MPs to vote in favour of gay equality, and has been an unfailing supporter of LGBT rights across his three decades in Parliament.
However, the MP has faced some scrutiny during the contest for sharing platforms with some homophobic groups and individuals – with Yvette Cooper claiming Mr Corbyn has ‘legitimised’ anti-Semitic and homophobic extremists by sharing a platform with them.
He hit back: “I have met people in the context of discussions about the Middle East with whom I profoundly disagree. I have met representatives of the Iranian government with whom I profoundly disagree with on the human rights issues.”
“My point is, if you’re to bring about a long-term peace process in the Middle East, you have to recognise that… you’ve got to talk to people you don’t like, don’t agree with, don’t particularly want to be in power, but you have to recognise they have a degree of support, and move on there. What’s the alternative, continuing the war?”