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Jeremy Corbyn Is Incredibly Confused By Corbynmania

"It’s a lot of running about and it’s a lot of bother, but, you know, it’s alright."

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Jeremy Corbyn, the man riding high in the Labour leadership contest against all expectations, has said he is baffled as to why he's suddenly so popular.

The 66-year-old, who first became an MP in 1983 and rarely hit the headlines before entering the leadership race, is now at the centre of one of the most unlikely movements in recent British political history.

"I don't understand it," said Corbyn at a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament event on Thursday. "But this is not a campaign about personalities or anything like that. They're not supporting me – this is a campaign about people's hopes and people coming together.

"I always thought there was a whole lot of people out there turned off by the political system and the way the last two elections were fought.

"We've opened something up here. It's in Europe, in the US – there is an atmosphere of hope in the world. Not everyone is depressed, not everyone is heading to austerity, people want to grow into more prosperity and hope for everyone."

After his anti-nuclear speech, people presented Corbyn with flowers, queued up to thank him for "saving the Labour party", and gifted him a chain of paper doves of peace.

Hundreds of Corbyn supporters, many wearing the MP's face on badges and T-shirts, impatiently awaited his late arrival at the event. A speaker tried to calm down the crowd, saying: "As a Christian, I'm used to waiting for the second coming."

The bearded MP arrived to prolonged applause and told fans hanging on his every word that a Labour party led by him would scrap the UK's nuclear weapons programme and reinvest the money in "green energy, high technology, and medicine".

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You can already buy countless forms of bizarre Corbyn merchandise, Mumsnet recently discussed how sexy he is, and the Corbynjokes Twitter account, which mocks the leadership candidate for his lack of humour, has taken over political Twitter.

"It's bizarre, isn't it?" said Corbyn on his Twitter parody. "It's a bit embarrassing, actually."

Does he have a favourite Corbynjoke? "No."

Corbyn is not at ease in the media spotlight. He said his leadership campaign is "a lot of running about and it’s a lot of bother, but, you know, it’s alright".

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He is much more comfortable when fielding questions on the issues he's spent his life campaigning for. He was particularly vocal on his support for trade unions at the event, held on the day when a strike ground London's tube network to a halt. He was asked if he had a message for commuters.

"How about we had a mayor that was prepared to talk to workers?" said Corbyn.

"Boris Johnson refused for three days running to meet the unions who have an issue about working arrangement, night shifts, and work/life balance. I think your question should go to Boris Johnson."

On being asked how he can campaign and win on an anti-austerity message when voters opted for a Conservative government and more austerity in the recent general election, he said: "The question [of austerity] was never put."

He was also at ease dealing with members of the public and fellow anti-nuclear campaigners, at one point linking arms with them and singing.

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Indeed, Corbyn's designated taxi driver for the campaign, as he was trying to fight through the crowds of fans to tell the MP it was time to go, said that despite Corbyn's dour public image, he is actually "a great laugh, even better than [late Labour MP] Tony Benn, who I drove about years ago".

But is a man who said his leadership campaign as "a lot of bother" really ready to lead the Labour party with the aim of becoming prime minister in 2020? Corbyn was asked if he prepared to be PM by a journalist from Sky News.

"I'm here because I've been put there to lead this campaign," he said.

Is that a yes?

"Of course it's a yes, I'm surprised you asked the question at all."

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at jamie.ross@buzzfeed.com.

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