Glasgow – Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership is like Aberdeen beating Real Madrid in a European final. It really happened, but you have to pinch yourself to believe it is true.
The 66-year-old, bearded left-winger was a 200/1 outsider when the contest began.
He scraped onto the ballot paper with just minutes to spare, only thanks to the charity nominations of MPs who leant him their signatures to “broaden the debate”.
Corbyn is everything that a modern professional politician shouldn’t be: crumpled, scruffy and principled.
He swept to victory promising to end austerity, abolish student tuition fees and scrap nuclear
His first act as leader was to attend a rally in support of refugees, at which he implored the government to support people who are desperate and need somewhere safe to live.
Corbyn’s critics deride him as a Trotskyite tribute act and utterly unelectable.
If this is true, they should be asking why he has just trounced his opponents.
The North London MP ran by far the most effective campaign, combining smart use of social media with old-fashioned public meetings and street-corner politics.
Corbyn’s campaign team had to move his meeting in Glasgow to a bigger venue after the original sold out within minutes.
It was a similar story in other parts of the country, with images of long queues and packed out halls shared again-and-again on Facebook and Twitter.
He was also the only candidate who saw the potential of Labour’s new electoral system, which allowed anyone who registered as a supporter for £3 to vote.
An astonishing 160,000 signed up in the 24 hours before the deadline.
All it took was a click on the internet to take part, but none of Corbyn’s three opponents even put a link on their campaign websites.
He achieved his victory by doing something very rare in politics and expanding the electorate.
Normal rules broken
Corbyn’s win against the odds shows that we now live in a world where the iPhone is mightier than the mainstream media.
The way in which ordinary Labour members put two fingers up at the establishment is reminiscent of last year’s independence referendum and the surge in support for the Scottish National Party.
The Westminster commentariat has failed to keep up with a new kind of politics that is driven by people, rather than elites.
Corbyn has already broken all the normal political rules.
The question now is whether the coalition of young people, old political hands and trade unions that won him the Labour leadership can take him all the way to Downing Street.
We will begin to get an answer to that next year with elections to the Scottish Parliament and local councils in England.
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