Labour leadership: This contest has changed the party - whoever wins

Labour leadership contenders Image copyright Getty Images

This is it. The last minute phone banks, panics over missing ballots, final pleas from the candidates are done.

The vote is now over and now Labour's wait begins. Before the result though it seems already the party has been changed, possibly forever by these extraordinary last few months.

An unexpected candidate has done the unexpected and Jeremy Corbyn has put himself into the most likely position to win the contest. Strikingly, that is against the better judgement of nearly every single senior figure in the Labour Party, and crucially nearly all of its MPs.

This is not just a product of his effective campaign, nor completely a verdict on the fact the other candidates have struggled to come across with dynamism.

But as one of the party's big brains, Jon Cruddas notes publicly today, and many others have argued privately in the last few months, Labour has not had a proper, wide rethink of what it's for since New Labour's domination, and those ideas were carved out twenty years ago.

While the world has changed around the party, not much deep thinking has gone on within, despite Ed Miliband's shift back towards the left.

Jeremy Corbyn, with an effective campaign and a humble appeal, has moved into that vacuum, bringing back traditional left wing supporters and sucking in a new generation too, crucially expanding the electorate, a trick few politicians manage to pull off.

Whether he wins or not, the new swell of support for old Labour ideas can't help but change the party.

The views of new members cannot be ignored. And those on the left wing inside the Parliamentary party are emboldened.

But after such an unpredictable, and at times chaotic race, the one certain thing is that no one knows what happens next.

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