Without in any way wanting to "do a Lovatt", I thought it might be interesting to have a quick look at the latest Labour leadership odds on the Betfair exchange...
Andy Burnham : Evens
Yvette Cooper : 16/5
Jeremy Corbyn : 4/1
Liz Kendall : 14/1
Basically what's happened is that Corbyn and Kendall have swapped over, with Kendall now occupying Corbyn's previous role as the oddball outsider.
I think those odds probably represent quite a rational reaction to the reports of private polling that supposedly shows Corbyn in a clear lead. Obviously he has a better chance than we once thought, but given that the private polls were commissioned by his opponents, you do have to question the motivation for leaking them, and whether they've been reported accurately. And even if these had been public polls, there would still be a big question mark, because it's notoriously hard to poll internal party elections. Does a Corbyn lead pass the "smell test"? Is it really likely that a party membership with a recent track record of voting for out-and-out Blairite leadership candidates would suddenly plump for an MP to the left of Michael Foot?
Ironically, the fact that Kendall seems to be crashing and burning could be a big additional hurdle for Corbyn. There are probably supporters of both Burnham and Cooper who loathe Blairism sufficiently that they will give Corbyn a higher ranking than Kendall, which might help Corbyn over the line if the final "instant run-off" is between the candidates from the two extremes. But if it boils down to a Burnham v Corbyn contest, which seems much more plausible, Corbyn will be receiving a negligible amount of transfers from Kendall's supporters.
If by any remote chance Corbyn does win, what would be the consequences? Firstly there would be utter pandemonium - it would be one of the biggest upsets in British politics for decades, perhaps rivalled only by Scottish Labour's wipeout this year. We can be pretty sure that the Labour right wouldn't simply reconcile themselves to the result, although in contrast to the early 80s they wouldn't be able to pray in aid a gerrymandered voting system. Probably their tactic would be to bide their time for a year or two, and then start darkly hinting that it isn't tenable for a party leader - even one with a clear mandate from members and supporters - to remain in office without the support of the parliamentary party. If that didn't work, we'd then be looking at an SDP-style breakaway, but perhaps on a much bigger scale. It would be interesting to see what the rebels call themselves, though - they can't really be the Social Democratic Party this time (it wouldn't be true anyway). Maybe they'd plump for the Hard-Edged Compassion Party, in tribute to their spiritual overlord.
Final thought : it isn't actually irrational that people are thinking of voting for Corbyn. Setting aside ideology, he's quite simply the most impressive of the four candidates. This is the sort of thing that happens when someone as uninspiring and dreary as Andy Burnham somehow emerges as the frontrunner to become Leader of the Opposition.
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Public Service Announcement : The new Liberal Democrat leader will be revealed today. You can probably be forgiven if you weren't aware of that (I must admit I'd almost forgotten).