There was an expectation that Jeremy Corbyn would, at the end of his speech, proclaim the Labour Party were ready to take over the world. Certainly, from the confidence with which he delivered the speech and the language he used, it would not be surprising, but what was abundantly clear, not only from Corbyn’s set piece today but the who犀利士
le of the Labour Party Conference is that there is the determination and self-belief that Labour can win the next General Election.
Having proposed a radically different policy agenda in their manifesto, and not done as badly in the election as was expected, the Labour Party hierarchy now believe that a socialist agenda is the right way forward in order to make further gains and win those crucial extra seats. Such confidence is, in a way bizarre, as Labour did not win the election and doing better than was anticipated is not really good enough to carry an agenda forward. But it chimes with swathes of the population and that is enough for Corbyn and co at the moment.
Was Conference this year a continuation of the agenda proposed in the manifesto, or did it go further? There was nothing too radical, merely the perpetuation of policies to increase state ownership and involvement and help those at the lower end of the socio-economic scale by taxing those at the opposite end. There was still a buzz in the conference hall, buoyed by a well delivered if overly long speech by the party leader. And did Jeremy Corbyn look like a Prime Minister in waiting – can the electorate see him leading us through the hazardous minefields of foreign policy negotiations, new trade deals in our post-Brexit world and cementing the UK’s position on the world stage? Not sure that John Prescott thought so; on one point he looked like he was having a snooze, but perhaps he was just listening intently with his head bowed and eyes closed.
Could a successful conference take Labour where they want to go? With no immediate opportunity to test their theory that they are ready to govern, it falls to pundits and commentators to make their own predictions. Plenty of analysts have not written kindly of today’s oratory, describing it as rambling, too long and lacking in any structure. But, to those in the hall, that will make very little difference as they appear to still be on Cloud 9. The longer term impact is still an unknown, which will be determined as much by the Conservative Party as by Labour.