Jeremy Corbyn
A shock poll has put Jeremy Corbyn ahead in the Labour leadership contest Getty

Jeremy Corbyn was a little-known backbencher until he entered the Labour leadership race and now the Islington North MP is sensationally set to win the race, according to a shock poll.

A private survey seen by left-wing magazine the New Statesman has put the 66-year-old socialist in front of leadership favourite Andy Burnham, former work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper and shadow care minister Liz Kendall in the first round of voting.

The poll, which was apparently commissioned on behalf of two rival campaigns, put Burnham ahead on first preference votes but showed, with second preference votes, Corbyn is set become Ed Miliband's successor.

However, a source close to one of the Labour leadership campaigns told IBTimes UK that their private data suggested Burnham is ahead, with Cooper a close second, Corbyn "some way behind" in third place and Kendall trailing the pack.

But it seems the shock poll only adds to the growing sense that Corbyn, the veteran Labour MP for Islington North, once seen as a long shot, should not be ruled out.

The veteran parliamentarian has been able to secure 40 nominations from local Labour parties (eight behind Burnham and 10 more than Cooper) and bookmaker Ladbrokes put Corbyn at 7/2 to become leader ahead of Kendall, who has slipped to 8/1.

Matthew Shaddick of Ladbrokes said: "The queues of punters wanting to back Corbyn are now longer than those at an Athens ATM machine. The betting is beginning to suggest that he might just pull this off."

The irony is Burnham gave Corbyn help to get on the leadership ballot by allowing some of his supportive MPs to nominate the left-wing firebrand in a bid to "broaden the debate".

Tulip Siddiq, for instance, told some of her green-minded constituents in June that she selected Corbyn despite backing Burnham.

"I voted for Corbyn to get him on the ballot. He will actually push the party towards some of the commitments that we want, I thought, in terms of the discussion," the new MP for Hampstead and Kilburn said.

The act of generosity could now backfire and see Labour move further to the left after Miliband's crushing defeat at the general election.

On top of that, Tory supporters have threatened to join Labour and vote for Corbyn after the party offered a "supporters fee" of £3, believing her would make the party unelectable for a generation. But Labour have said the saboteurs would be stopped because they have to declare they are sincere supports and the party can vet them.