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Jeremy Corbyn Is the Most Electable Labour Leadership Candidate

The moment I heard Jeremy Corbyn had made it on to the ballot paper, I whooped with sheer joy. Apparently, however, not everyone in the Labour Party was so pleased. John Mann MP tweeted that Labour had shown a "desire never to win again"; avowed Blairite Dan Hodges, who probably needs someone to check his blood pressure, has spat out two articles criticising his decision to stand; John Rentoul is drowning in his own bile, though that's pretty much a given in any situation. Tories, meanwhile, have responded with an unprecedented marvel of smugness in the form of the 'Tories for Corbyn' campaign.

The general assumption is, of course, that he because he is left-wing he is therefore unelectable. But that perspective is no longer relevant. Here are three reasons why Jeremy Corbyn is the most electable candidate:

1) The public generally agrees with him

Let us examine some of the policies that a left-wing Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn could be expected to adopt. A mansion tax (now explicitly rejected by Andy Burnham)? One YouGov poll found that 65% of voters would like to see a tax of 1% on homes worth over £2 million, and this includes a lead of 8% among Tory voters. Public ownership of services? In 2013, according to YouGov, 67% of the population wanted Royal Mail to be run in the public sector, compared with just 22% who wanted it privatised; 66% wanted the railway companies nationalised, compared with just 23% who did not; and 68% wanted the energy companies nationalised, while only 21% did not. Corbyn's personal enthusiasm is rent controls, and these were also supported by 45% of the public.

What about taxation, historically one of the stickiest issues? Much the same picture emerges. Two-thirds of the population think that our current level of wealth inequality is bad for society; a little over half think that it is bad for the economy (which should keep even Liz Kendall happy). People aren't frightened off by high taxes to deal with inequality, either.

2) No other candidate stirs up so much enthusiasm

The 'Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader' page on Facebook has, at last count, over 28,000 followers; the closest competitor is Burnham, on a little over 9,000. I'm sure many MPs will testify that before last week they received a veritable tornado of e-mails and other correspondence from eager Corbynites trying to persuade them to nominate him. Witness Sarah Champion MP on Twitter, staving off the flurry of Corbyn supporters' exhortations to nominate him with the desperate plea that she already had.

So what? No matter how lively the supporter, they still get only one vote in the general election. But whoever wins the leadership can be sure that they will spend five years enduring endless mud-slinging from the right-wing press, and the only way to combat that will be to build a campaign whose devotion to its message makes it impervious to such blows. Could any media coverage have dented the prestige of the SNP? No, because they had a devout following of grassroots activists and were riding on a surge of promise and change. That is what Labour needs to develop; however-many-million conversations on the doorstep are no good when they're just awkward ones about a leader no-one much likes, plugging an agenda that inspires nobody.

3) He's the only one that looks normal

Jeremy Corbyn is a rare creature, someone who has been in the House of Commons for any length of time and manages not to sound like the lovechild of a robot and one of Hell's demons. People are sick and tired of the carefully-managed media campaigns, the slick focus group-sourced sterility of modern political theatre. Some have fixed on Burnham as the antidote to this, but for all his faux-northernness, he still speaks the language of politics - what does "aspiration", which has been so brutally dragged about by a succession of Labour candidates over the next few weeks, actually mean any more? Politics is crying out for someone who looks normal, sounds normal, has lived normally. Give us someone different, for God's sake.

Throughout all of this, the right-wingers have repeated like an incantation that magical date, 1983, which to them proves that a left-wing manifesto can never win a general election (never mind the equally left-wing manifesto which won both 1974 general elections). Well, 1983 was three decades ago - tempora mutantur. Nonetheless, there is certainly one lesson to be taken from it. Michael Foot suffered so badly in that year because the Right threw a hissy fit, with many of them leaving the party and the rest staying to cause him trouble. He suffered because right-leaners were eager to attack and discredit him. Do the Labour Right truly wish to see succeed the party they profess to support? If so, then they need to shut up.

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