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  1. Politics
10 July 2015

Just how good are Jeremy Corbyn’s chances?

Jeremy Corbyn continues his remarkable surge. But how worried should his opponents be?

By Stephen Bush

Jeremy Corbyn continues his remarkable campaign. Our rolling tally of constituency nominations has him at 28 – ten behind the bookmakers’ favourite Andy Burnham and six ahead of Yvette Cooper. Liz Kendall, the modernisers’ candidate, is in a distant fourth place.

It’s spooked Labour First – the independent organisation of what used to be called Labour’s “old right”, into calling for a joint line against Corbyn from supporters of Burnham, Cooper and Kendall. Are they right to be worried? 

It looks increasingly likely that trade unionists will make up just a tenth of the total – well short of the third of the vote they made up under the old system, weakening Corbyn slightly (he has the endorsement of Unite, which makes up the bulk of those trade unionists). My initial instinct is that CLP nominations would help the party’s left and old right slightly, boosting Corbyn and Cooper’s soores. They are, after all, as one sympathetic MP observed, “the ones who really like meetings”. 

But from checking the figures last time it appears that my instincts may be wrong. David Miliband got 40 per cent of CLP nominations – close to his final share of 44 per cent among party members. Ed Miliband got 38 per cent from CLP nominations and 30 per cent from party members. Ed Balls got four per cent of CLPs and 10 per cent from members. Diane Abbot secured just four per cent of CLP nominations and seven percent of the vote. And Burnham got 11 per cent of the vote and four per cent from members. 

So while it’s not a perfect guide – and my hunch is that the hostility towards Kendall on social media will mean her supporters eschew these meetings, meaning she will outperform her nomination total – recent history suggests that it is a half-decent one. I predicted shortly before Corbyn made the ballot that he would “surprise a lot of people” with how well he did in the race. I still don’t think he can quite make the winning post – but the prospect of a Corbyn victory should be taken seriously.

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