Corbyn closes in on what could be his only victory

It has been a very odd summer. On hot August days, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people have crowded into halls to listen to a bearded man in his 60s, an ignored Westminster fixture for three decades, who in less than a fortnight will probably be the leader of the opposition.

Jeremy Corbyn's story is a rather damning indictment, not just of his Labour leadership rivals, but of our entire political class. His policies, lauded by his very vocal supporters, would almost certainly condemn Labour to many more years in opposition. But his beliefs, the very fact that he has beliefs, and sticks to them, marks him out as something different, and wins him the affection and respect of voters weary of shiny-suited salespeople with rosettes.

Are you any clearer now than you were three months ago about what Andy Burham believes in? Or Yvette Cooper? Or Liz Kendall? But you know what Corbyn believes in -- and what he doesn't.

If only every party could do the same, politics would be a lot more interesting, and a lot more attractive to manypeople. Rival parties, with different views of the world, setting out competing agendas and fighting over which is best.

But that isn't going to happen. Labour under Corbyn will have the firm support of around one-in-four voters, and the Conservatives will win the next election.

The problem for the anti-Corbyn campaigners is that, facing a candidate with a message of hope (albeit almost certainly spurious), their counter-message is one of hopelessness.

"Yes, yes, yes.  It's all very nice, all this talk of ending austerity, taxing the rich and helping poor people. But it isn't going to happen. So come to your senses and do as you're told".

Not especially inspiring.

Tony Blair's now given up persuading Labour supporters to think again, his final plea more a defeated howl, at a generation who've forgotten Labour's near collapse in the 1980s.

There is much to admire in Corbyn, the way he's handled the campaign, the undoubted honesty of his beliefs. But, as depressing as it may be for many Labour supporters, Jeremy Corbyn is simply incapable of persuading enough voters to put Labour in a position to enact any of his policies.

Yes, he has enthused hundreds of thousands who'd paid £3 to sign up as supporters. But the 600,000 electorate for Labour's leadership ballot represents around 1% of the UK electorate.

How many of the remaining 99% will share their enthusiasm?

Regardless of who wins Labour's leadership election, the party is deep in crisis. Ninety-nine seats behind a rampant Conservative party, and with many inside Labour already writing off any prospect of winning in 2020, this month the party decides whether to start climbing out of its hole, or keep digging.