The basic reason that the leadership election has been so disappointing, until Jeremy Corbyn came on the scene, was that it was stuck on issues (insofar as it was stuck on any issues at all) that, while certainly important, did not have the makings of a vision. Even when Corbyn prompted the others to produce some actual policies, they were not the real thing. Andy Burnham was right to praise land value tax and above all the need to integrate social care within the NHS, and Yvette Cooper was absolutely right to demand that Britain takes its proper share of Syrian refugees where the government response has been callously dehumanised. Bully for her. But these are not the fundamentals, and only Jeremy Corbyn seems to have grasped what this election is really all about.
it is about how the world (because it concerns far, far more than just Britain) should respond to the most momentous event since 1945. That is the biggest financial/economic crash for nearly a century, the slowest recovery since the Great Depression, and the longest run of prolonged austerity (and far from over) since the 1870s. The City, the corporate business elite and the Tories (and to a lesser degree the Blairites from Blair downwards) regarded this as a glitch from which business-as-usual should return as soon as possible. They believed the underlying structure was sound, the ideology was right (i.e. de-regulation of finance, unfettered capitalism, glorification of the market, privatisation of all industries and services wherever possible, and suppression of any counter-force and in particular the trade unions), and removal of governments from the action was the best way to promote efficiency and growth. But not only did they believe it then, they still believe it when the evidence against it is now overwhelming.
The ultra-liberal business model has manifestly failed. It has led to an intensely fragile global economy, indeed to secular stagnation as Lawrence Summers has rightly termed it, and over six years of grinding austerity have produced neither sustainable growth nor much deficit reduction. We need some new ideas about the fundamentals, and only Corbyn seems to be offering them. He opposes further austerity on the grounds that continually contracting the economy is incompatible with lasting growth. He wants to rebalance the economy by large-scale public investment in industry and services, with the serious goal of full employment, paid for either by mandating the publicly-owned banks to prioritise investment in British manufacturing or by a direct injection of QE funding into industrial investment rather than via the banks or by requiring a fair contribution of the costs from the extremely rich, none of which would require any increase in public borrowing. Instead of pursuing privatisation and outsourcing which has turned out wildly expensive and wasteful, he would seek to create a new settlement between State and markets where private markets have clearly failed, particularly in sectors like energy, housing, rail, water, pensions and banking, in a manner that optimised the public interest rather than just maximised money-making. And much more.