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No future PM on show in Labour's four-ring circus.

As the nation slows to gawk at the car crash that Labour like to call a leadership contest, one thing glinting in the wreckage looks like a certainty.

Jeremy Corbyn will never be Prime Minister. His critics are almost certainly right and Larry the Downing Street cat has more chance of winning the 2020 election.

But, as the same critics always fail to add, his three rivals for the leadership have the same dismal prospects of prising power from the Tories.

Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall are a ho-hum, uninspiring lot and their same-old platitudes and reheated rhetoric have been done before and done better.

They have been singing the same dreary songs of the middle ground all their lives and never been given the lines to deal with an Old Labour, conviction politician like Corbyn.

They might have read about such terrifying dinosaurs in books but now they are abandoned in Jurassic Park and the fences are down.

But, as those three continue to clatter around the big top, the wheels of their cars falling off as they hurl custard pies at the front-runner, who knows what will happen? Maybe, if, but probably when, Corbyn wins the top job, the swell of support behind his run for the leadership will get wider and deeper as we remember what a politician sounds like when he actually means it.

Perhaps the Tories will blow themselves up over Europe. Perhaps the economy will crash around our ears again.

And maybe, after all, Corbyn will wander into Downing Street as Britain turns left to a brighter tomorrow.

But, all things considered, it's not going to happen.

Even if he wins the leadership, the odds are heavily against Corbyn even taking his party to the polls in five years' time.

In truth, he doesn't sound as if he's that bothered.

It is not a trick question for someone bidding to lead Labour but, asked if he wants to be Prime Minister last week, Corbyn hummed and hawed but never actually said yes.

Any good leader knows how to compromise, to understand what absolutely has to be won and what might be given up to win it but Corbyn has never compromised or budged an inch in all his years as an MP and, you've got to think, is unlikely to start now.

The alternative futures are countless but possibly the brightest is that Corbyn leads for a while, reminds Labour of what they once were and of what they might be again if his kind of politics can be welded to achievable, popular policies capable of reaching voters the left have never reached before - policies to make their lives better and the country fairer.

Then, in a few years' time, a brilliant new leader drops out of a blue sky and he - or, even better, she - is prepared to give and take a little, to offer up a little principle to gain a lot of power to do some good.

A seamless transition takes place and, in 2020, Labour seize back 100-plus seats from the Tories. And this time next year we'll all be millionaires.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon must be watching Labour with the same transfixed disbelief as the rest of us.

The First Minister will not be losing a minute of sleep about any of these Labour hopeful contenders but, on balance, would probably choose Corbyn for his leadership's limitless potential to plunge Labour into a morass of fights, feuds, pacts and plots.

And whatever presentational problems Corbyn, genuinely left-wing, causes the SNP, whose red credentials remain more nebulous, his command of Labour and possible legacy of bad blood and division is most likely to keep the Tories in power, not just next time but the time after that as well.

And, Sturgeon must suspect, that prospect of 15 years of untrammelled Conservative government will only bolster support for the SNP and the drive to detach Scotland from the United Kingdom.

But, as we enjoy the circus and blether on about the ifs and buts of tomorrow, we should not forget the Tories are in Downing Street today and in a terrible hurry to do their worst.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 23, 2015
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