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11 August 2015

No, really, Jeremy Corbyn is going to win the leadership election

Forget worries about the polls, forget Operation:Icepick, forget everything. Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour leadership election.

By Stephen Bush

Is there anyone now who honestly believes that Jeremy Corbyn isn’t on course to win the Labour leadership election?

Yes, polls have been wrong before, and polling members of a political party – who there aren’t very many of, without accurate demographic data to weight from – is as hard as it gets. But as well as that first-round landslide in the polls, Corbyn has already a) come top in the CLP nominations race, securing 152 of them, against Andy Burnham’s 111, Yvette Cooper’s 109 and Liz Kendall’s 18. He has also b) packed out almost every venue he’s spoken at.

At the election, not only were the polls wrong, they looked wrong from the beginning. Labour’s poll lead wasn’t borne out by its limp second place in the European elections. And in most of the polls, voters said they preferred David Cameron over Ed Miliband, George Osborne over Ed Balls, and a Tory government over a Labour one: but claimed they’d vote Labour. The numbers never quite made sense.

Last time, either the polls were wrong, or everything else was. This time, all the dials point to Corbyn.

There is some mild concern among parts of the Left  that Labour’s “Operation Icepick” – the weeding out of members of other political parties who have signed up to vote under the £3 registration scheme – will lead to a victory by one of the centrist candidates. (There is also a mood of hostility towards the £3 scheme among existing members and the parliamentary Labour party, who blame the Corbyn surge on the idea.)

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There are, at time of writing, around 70,000 registered supporters. Labour has expelled under 2,000 because they stood for other parties, including the Conservative Party. I’m going to make a prediction: Corbyn’s margin of victory will be larger than the eventual number of £3 supporters. Remember that it’s not £3 supporters who gave Corbyn the nominations of 152 CLPs. It’s not £3 supporters who have been cheering him to the rafters in the hustings. And in both YouGov polls, party members would have handed Corbyn victory too, albeit in less spectacular style than he will achieve thanks to the £3 scheme. 

As boring as it may make the last month, the only question is the margin of Corbyn’s victory.