As Labour Party Conference comes to a close today and the politicos return to Westminster many will be reflecting on what has happened over the last few days in Liverpool, before heading to Birmingham on Sunday for Conservative Party Conference. There was a sense on the ground in Liverpool that this was Corbyn’s Conference.
Energy was low in Liverpool this week. It seemed that everyone who was there was in quiet contemplation about what was going to become of the Party, that over the past couple of years has looked like it would split due to multiple factions; anti-Semitism, positions on Brexit, leadership and the future of the party. Blairite’s rubbed shoulders with Corbynistas at the New Statesman Party on Sunday evening, Momentum were pre-occupied in their own three day event “The World Transformed” and everyone seemed to be on best behaviour. Is there finally unity behind Jeremy Corbyn and his vision?
The Labour Party leadership will have been diligent in the preparation and the optics that the Party should look like it has turned a new page and is moving forward. This was Corbyn’s conference. His speech was impassioned and he was celebrated by his Cabinet colleagues who took to the stage before him. There was no major schism that took the media by storm and miraculously there was a sense that Labour could fight a General Election within the next 12 months.
McDonnell’s proposals for businesses to give their employees a significant shareholding was not popular among the business leaders in the Pullman bar and has set the Labour Party apart when it comes to politics that will impact businesses. For many, nationalisation is starting to make sense for the likes of the railways, but intervening in the boardrooms of Britain’s most prosperous companies is a different story.
Could there be a new leader of the Labour Party in the next 12 months? Maybe. If so, then expect to see an all-woman shortlist with names rising from within the Party ranks – Angela Rayner, Rebecca Long-Bailey or Alison McGovern – and those that we are already familiar with – Emily Thornbury and Dawn Butler. Any new leader will have to meet the requirements of the NEC and the more hard-left activism that Corbyn and Momentum have installed. Taking that to the country, should there be a General Election, will be a challenge.
In closing the four day conference, the impression is that Corbyn may have won over some of his adversaries in the centre of the Party. He was absolute in his position to reunite Labour on all of the divisions, particularly anti-Semitism, which may be his legacy unless he tackles it head on. The party’s position on Brexit is still unclear, but the backing for a “People’s Vote” including Remain, might just see Corbyn move closer to Number 10.