Labour's younger supporters, aghast at the cuts being inflicted by the Tory government in the name of balancing the budget, do not want someone who will make the party electable. They want someone who will articulate their outrage. And it is here that Corbyn has an advantage over his rivals: He is untainted by compromise.
Now aged 66, Corbyn was first elected to parliament in 1983. That year, Labour stood on a far-left platform promising unilateral nuclear disarmament and the nationalization of swathes of British industry. It was described by one of its own MPs as "the longest suicide note in history."
Over the next decade, Labour embarked on a gruelling march back toward the center ground. That reached its apogee in 1994, when Tony Blair rebranded the party as "New Labour" and declared it the natural home of the aspiring middle class. His MPs shaved off their beards, stopped singing "The Red Flag," revoked their symbolic commitment to "the common ownership of the means of production" and promised not to raise taxes. The result was three landslide victories.
A handful of MPs, however, kept both their beards and their beliefs — chief among them Jeremy Corbyn. And where Miliband promised in 2010 to "turn the page" on New Labour, Corbyn wants to go back and tear out the entire chapter.
The result is a policy platform which makes Hillary Clinton look like Grover Norquist. Corbyn would nationalize the railways, most of the energy companies and at least one of the banks. He would abandon austerity, raise taxes on the rich and force the Bank of England to print money to pay for houses, railways and wind farms. He would return schools to state control (undoing Britain's version of the charter school program, set up under Blair). He would slash defense spending and abolish Britain's nuclear deterrent. He might bring in a "maximum wage" to cap executive pay, or reopen the coal mines, or withdraw from NATO.
Then there are his views on foreign policy. Corbyn is one of those Europeans who blames the West for the bulk of the world's evils — and who therefore believes that anyone who hates America or Britain or Israel probably has something going for them. He befriends Venezuela, Bolivia, Russia, Iran, Palestine, Hamas, Hezbollah. He blames the Ukraine crisis on NATO. He befriended Sinn Féin, the IRA's political wing, even as it was blowing up British civilians. He opposed the Falklands, Kosovo, the first Gulf War and the invasion of Afghanistan — and, of course, Iraq. He was recently asked if there were any circumstances under which he would deploy British troops abroad. "I am sure there are some," he replied. "But I can't think of them at the moment."'