Jeremy Corbyn – underdog becomes top dog as Unison joins Unite in announcing support

Bookies slash odds on Corbyn win, creating “biggest price fall in political betting history”

There remains six weeks until the Labour Party announces its new leader, and at the moment Jeremy Corbyn is confounding everyone’s early expectations by leading the race.

Indeed, the bookies have now changed their odds to reflect that Corbyn has now overtaken Andy Burnham. Ladbrokes said that Corbyn is now “the clear favourite” while William Hill said that the massive surge in support for the anti-austerity candidate has seen “the biggest price fall in political betting history”.

Corbyn initially struggled to gain the support of just 35 of his fellow Labour MPs to make the ballot paper. He was branded “unelectable”, and many of those nominating him said they did so to make the leadership debate as broad as possible.

But Corbyn’s campaign has gone from strength to strength, much to the surprise of the other leadership contestants.

Corbyn consolidated his lead this week, yesterday securing the backing of Unison which has 1.3 million members, including 28,000 Labour Party members, and a further 15,000 who are eligible to vote in the leadership contest.

Unison’s support for Corbyn follows that of Unite, which had previously announced it would support Corbyn’s bid.

Unite and Unison are the UK’s two largest trade unions, and are seen as highly influential forces in the Labour leadership race.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s message has resonated with public sector workers who have suffered years of pay freezes, redundancies with too many having to work more for less.”

Poll positions

Corbyn took a 20-point lead in private polling by the Mirror this week, and a YouGov poll last week saw Corbyn leading by 17 points. A LabourList.org survey of over 3,000 members put Corbyn at an even stronger lead, with 73% saying they would vote for him.

The results have exasperated Corbyn’s fellow contestants, and both Burnham and Yvette Cooper’s teams have released their own polls showing that it is not Corbyn, but their candidates, who are leading the race.

Yvette Cooper said voting for Jeremy Corbyn would be “condemning our world to a Tory future” and said that Labour must not return “to the 1980s and just be a protest movement”.

A win for Corbyn is widely believed to spell disaster for the Labour Party and some serious soul searching among its top ranks. Meanwhile, Tories are already rubbing their hands with glee at a further weakened opposition.

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