Jeremy Corbyn ran the campaign of his life, while Theresa May led one of the worst in recent history

It will probably do the Labour leader no good at all on Thursday, but Jeremy Corbyn still rose to the occasion of a general election, while Theresa May dragged it down with her 

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Indy Politics

Psephologists had puzzled for long hours over quite what last minute polling analysis had led Jeremy Corbyn to begin his final marathon day campaigning in Glasgow, and then pass through Runcorn, Colwyn Bay, Watford, Harrow and Wealdstone before the big Islington homecoming.

Such people are not experts on West Coast Main Line stations.  

While Theresa May spent her last campaign day private-jetting between what expensively commissioned internal research indicated were seats that could still be swung her way, Team Corbyn’s strategy was less "our private polling indicates" and more "let’s get off every third stop".

So many things, on the final day, illustrate the difference between the two campaigns. In a hermetically sealed community centre in Norwich, Conservative party staff gave lessons to activists on the correct way to wave centrally produced and distributed placards for the TV cameras. "Up. Down. Up. Down", was the advice. "Not side to side".

On a parade of shops in Watford, the two hundred or so, young looking, normal looking people that turned up had made their own. And as they waited, in the time that might otherwise have been spent on placard-waving tutorial, they chanted badly reworked football songs about Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn, finally arrived, to whoops of great delight, and as he spelled out how "the choice facing the country could not clearer”, a nine-year-old boy bellowed, "VOTE LABOUR!"

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"That was, actually the conclusion I was leading to," Corbyn told him. "If you'll just let me take a bit more time to get there."

You don’t get that on the Theresa Tour.

When Corbyn had finished a rousing tricolon on Conservative police cuts, and yet "they act surprised there’s a shortage of police officers!" one young man shouted "Bastards!" while another offered "Wankers!"

You don’t get that in Theresa’s privately booked sports hall. Nor do you get Bangladeshi shopkeepers, leaning out of upstairs windows, filming on their smartphones.

The two realistic options on the ballot paper tomorrow certainly look more different than at any point arguably in living memory. Even Corbyn and May agree on that, the “choice facing the country has never been clearer.” Both of them said the same words.

That, while different, both offer the near certainty of crashing the economy albeit in their own very different ways, is unfortunate.

Corbyn fans have long known he is a natural campaigner. Blowing the Labour Party leadership contest to smithereens from nowhere, and doing the same a year later is no small achievement. Trouble is, his prize has been to advertise his unparalleled unsuitability for government.

The utter direness of the 2017 general election has left little wise or noble standing. But the old rule: that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose is in tact. And if you thought Theresa May’s poetry was hard going, there are long, terrifying years of impenetrable copy to come.

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