Conferences over. Now work begins

If you were perplexed at the last General Election as to where to put your X then you will be rather more frustrated at the next round. The Corbyn-May choice is still a likely re-run and for a variety of reasons.

Labour, at conference, confirmed a return to a menu expansion of state ownership and control. But as each day drew to a close I searched in vain for detail and vision of the promises. Much time was spent in strengthening Corbyn’s position and control in the constituencies and the methods of parliamentary selection. As a longstanding member of Labour I have encountered over the years similar tactics by the platform to create an exclusive party mechanism of the Left. But never before on this scale. The week was well organised but slips occurred when Corbyn’s shadow chancellor concluded a finance review by surprisingly posing the question of what a Labour government in office would do if there was a run on the Pound. Suddenly the cheering ceased and the delegates seemed to show concern.

Corbyn has made good use of his open air rallies during the past two years and so here he made a confident speech. Incidentally at Westminster at PMQs his impact although slow initially has now become confident but he still shows naivety on the international front. Fortunately he has dropped the dubious cards from members of the public ( Dolly from Daventry) and he aims now for a five year commitment to lead the Party.

Serious questions remain on his dependence on the far left Momentum group. Their influence was to be seen throughout conference yet Luke Akenhurst, secretary of Labour First, tries to rally the moderates saying ” we are alive and kicking”. There is little evidence for his optimism.
Some Jewish delegates were pleased with the rule change to outlaw racism ( Antisemitism , an afterthought)? But it seems to me to make scant difference to policy when the leader is so ambivalent concerning Jewish issues. After all said one American friend – it’ll be up to him to call the shots. All credit to the continuing efforts of Louise Ellman not only for her tough stance at conference, in Parliament and the Jewish Labour Movement.

For the Tory party conference Theresa May had to overcome many discordant noises from Cabinet ministers in particular the writings and whispers concerning Boris Johnson and his renewed likely pitch for leadership. Yet one can’t deny his outstanding presentation dragging the conference from some gloom to a determined positive level. In some ways Theresa May’s most critical moment was her presentation to a European audience in Florence. Whatever your views on the Brexit negotiations she was strong and personable.

Will she will be around at the next election? She believes so but this must depend on her success with Brexit and her ability to see off her rivals. There were many thoughtful moments in Manchester including an economic appraisal by Philip Hammond and there was a rousing start to proceedings with a very funny and passionate speech by Ruth Davidson of the Scottish conservatives.

A subject hardly referred to at the conferences was the ongoing dispute and the serious implications of the growing tensions between Trump and North Korea.

Now, as I write we’re getting closer to a challenge by both sides and the words and stance are of war. How insular are we in British politics that we talk of many things but the big issue of global survival doesn’t even register. We are in the front line too.

Finally the conference speech which impressed me was that by Vince Cable the new LibDem leader. Matthew Parris in The Times wrote ” only the LibDems can benefit from Tory disarray and Labour madness”. Bets anyone ?

About the Author
Eric is a former Labour Party MP
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