Jeremy Corbyn made his conference debut yesterday, delivering a speech to mark out his “new politics” with passages that had been written in the 1980s and rejected by every Labour leader since Neil Kinnock. He stirred the party faithful with attacks on the media -beginning one sentence by declaring “Sorry commentariat!” – and the Tories, while failing to mention topics like the deficit or Labour’s election defeat in May. There were moments of oddness, like his vow to give young people “the space for their fizz to explode into the joy we want”, and when he accidentally read out a stage direction from the autocue – intoning: “Strong message here!”
So what did the “commentariat” make of Corbyn’s debut? He hasn’t exactly made friends, with the Sun labelling it a “Marxist rant”. The Economist dubbed it “unproductive self-gratification: dialectical onanism”, while Dan Hodges thought Corbyn was pretending “voters didn’t exist”. “Of all the speeches [he] could have made, this was the most predictable and the most useless,” said Ian Dunt. Simon Danczuk called it a “mantra of misery”, and Twitter mocked him for being dressed like Mr Bean.
Corbyn may have had a shaky conference debut, but his aim was to survive and get Labour used to the idea of him as leader. The test will now be how Labour shapes its thinking under his leadership, amid its various “reviews” and push for more power for members. “Subcontracting decisions to party members will never be any substitute for leadership itself,” William Hague warns in today’s paper.
Labour will debate today what stance it should take on bombing Isil in Syria, although John McDonnell has tried to defuse tensions by suggesting MPs will get a free vote. You can follow today’s events on our liveblog. Corbyn has kept the peace for now by deciding Labour will agree to disagree on difficult issues like Trident, but – as I’ve written – he can’t placate everyone in his party forever.
“Strong message here!”
Bombs Away? Not Today
Labour MPs are set to be tied into voting against military action in Syria by a vote at the Labour party conference later on Wednesday. This comes as David Cameron admitted world leaders remain “miles apart” over how to solve the Syrian crisis, as he called the problem the most “difficult” he has faced in office.
Holding Out For A Euro
David Cameron faces a row over the European Union budget at a highly delicate phase of his renegotiation drive after MEPs voted to hike Britain’s bill next year by nearly £400 million. He has also admitted that the refugee crisis engulfing Europe “complicates” the task of convincing Britons to stay in the EU.
The 56 Becomes 55
The SNP is facing major embarrassment after its business spokesman – Michelle Thomson – was suspended as police launched an investigation into property deals she was involved in five years ago.
Waiting On A Friend
Jeremy Corbyn was heckled after his speech at the Labour Friends of Israel reception for refusing to refer to “Israel” by name throughout his 10 minute speech. A man at the back of the room shouted “say the word Israel”, prompting security guards to bundle him out of the packed room.
Slaves Of The Past
David Cameron faced calls to “personally atone” for his family’s historic ties to slavery as his first day visiting Jamaica was overshadowed by a row about reparations. “Yes, slavery is a horrible stain on Britain’s past but no apologies or reparations are going to undo that past,” Julia Hartley-Brewer writes.
Kerry Drops Her Beef With Meat
Kerry McCarthy, the vegan shadow minister for the environment who suggested people should be discouraged from eating meat, has declared her support for British farmers. “I do eat food and much of it is produced by British farmers,” she told activists.
Jeremy Corbyn is prepared to strip private schools of their charitable status in a significant escalation of his party’s war on the middle classes, Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell has indicated.