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Live from Brighton - final day


Enthusiasm, Energy and Excitement. Three words that have echoed around the Brighton Conference Centre for the past five days. 

Now the challenge is for that to be translated into campaigning around the country and to convince more than the Party faithful in Brighton, more than those who voted for Labour at this summer's General Election that Jeremy Corbyn can lead the country when we next go to the polls. And that could be sooner than later even without local elections another test next year.

No one can doubt his ability as a people person. At a reception on Sunday night I watched him work the room, stopping for selfies, stopping to talk to people and hug complete strangers even though he was running late with another NINE engagements that evening alone. I even got a brief word with him myself and an unsolicited kiss on the cheek. Some reading this won't like it but Tony Blair had a similar ability when meeting people to charm them over as I also experienced personally on a number of occasions. 

Compared to the robotic Teresa May - who had never until this summer had to campaign having been MP in a safe seat in Maidenhead and then handed the position of Prime Minister on a plate - Jeremy Corbyn has spent all his political career campaigning. But he must know deep down the work is only just beginning- despite his confident approach after a week which saw no outward challenges to his position as leader, a week in which his position was strengthened.

Before he launched into his speech today he admitted to the packed hall: "This week has been infectious. Let's make sure the whole of the country is infected with the same spirit too."

But he added: "In June we won the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945 and achieved Labour's best vote for a generation. It's a result which put the Tories on notice and Labour on the threshold of power.

"Yes we didn't do quite well enough and we remain in opposition for now but we have become  Government in waiting. Our message to the country could not be clearer - Labour is ready.

"We are ready and the Tories are clearly not. They are certainly not strong and they are definitely not stable.

"The reality is that barely three months since the election this coalition of Conservative chaos is tearing up its Manifesto and tearing itself apart. They are bereft of ideas and energy. Well we have plenty of ideas and energy."     

At one point Corbyn used the crumbling, blackened image of Grenfell Tower as a symbol for a failed and broken system - although personally I thought it should have been the opener for his 90 minute delivery, providing a stronger narrative in a speech that at times and unusually for him seemed to lose its way. 


Not that it didn't go down well in the hall with the majority cheering him to the rafters, chanting 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn' as soon as he entered the main hall. A LBGT rock choir from Brighton were the warm-up act singing The Voice by English born Australian rock star John Farnham - something I think I last heard live at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics back in 2000.

But Corbyn insisted he would give a voice to those often unable to speak up for themselves.

He said: "I promised you two years ago that we would do politics differently. It's not always been easy. There are quite a few who prefer politics the old way. But let me say it again. We will do politics differently. And the vital word is WE.

"Making sure that everybody's voice must be heard no matter who they are or what their background."

Now though Corbyn and the Labour Party have to ensure that their message of hope and a new kind of politics is not only heard but believed and translated into more even votes on the doorsteps of Britain so they cross the threshold into power.


Conference Highlights:

  • Jon Ashworth - a rising star who as Shadow Health Secretary gave a passionate speech and announced a new national policy for addiction services. Hopefully he will also realise the need to bring health and social care for the elderly especially under the same umbrella - a motion raised by Poole CLP. Means-tested social care is not cradle to the grave for many including those with dementia who are forced to sell their home to fund residential or nursing home care.
  • John McDonnell announcing no new PFI agreements
  • Hearing Yvette Cooper, Keir Starmer, Hilary Benn and Chuka Umunna speak on Brexit at a fringe event with intelligent answers on How to Handle Brexit
  • The announcement of a National Education Service.

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