At times, Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Labour Party Conference yesterday was more like a wedding speech from a best man or father or the bride. The first time he used a stylist and they managed to make him look uncannily like Mr Bean with a brown jacket, black trousers and red tie. But, with people queuing for hours to hear what he had to say, this left-wing political agitator, who has been on the scene since the late 1970s, began his pitch to become the next UK Prime Minister.
He didn’t enter the hall to the sound of Rocky or Superman, and there were certainly no pop songs with a chorus like ‘things can only get better.’ Seemingly stunned at the level of clapping from the hall he began to clap himself too, maybe through the shock of where he was stood. He began by thanking everyone for coming and then signalling out a plethora of people from the Labour family for praise.
It was ‘Corbyn uncut’, or should we say without spin. We had a little bit of comedy to start us off, at the expense of the media of course, which seems to rival the Tories for the deepest level of disdain. The media, he said, reported that his leadership would mean Asteroids hitting earth and that he was unfit to lead as a very distant relative had run a Victorian workhouse and he rode a ‘Chairman Mao style bicycle. Overall, it was a good opener and a far cry from the slick, election winning, cool Britannia days of New Labour and Tony Blair.
Last year, sections of the Labour Party were aghast when former Leader, Ed Miliband forgot to mention the deficit in his speech! This year, Corbyn did not mention the deficit or the number one issue in British politics today, immigration. He also forgot to give a mention to his friends in the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah.
The ‘foreign policy’ section was certainly varied. After highlighting the fate of a Saudi Arabian national that no one has ever heard of and mentioning a Nigerian novelist and reciting African-American poetry he ended by celebrating the release of an Islamic extremist from Gitmo.
The enthusiasm of the seated Parliamentary Labour Party, already looking about as fake as a £29.99 Rolex, soon evaporated when Corbyn announced he was contracting out policy from them to the party membership. Politics will no longer be done in Westminster he said. The looks on their faces was only topped by his reiteration that he would not support Trident. “The lunatics have really taken over the asylum” was probably flashing across their minds. Corbyn then announced that the printed media were yesterday’s news and social media was the future. Yes, that revolution which started about 10 years ago comrade!
What was really ironic was when Corbyn instructed his party not to be rude to people who disagree with them. Hey Jezza, get back on social media and take a look at the vile, very rude stuff your lefty mates (although admittedly the right isn’t much better) use to describe anyone that does not sign up to your way of thinking. He also said that he personally would not be that way but spent the whole speech referring to the government as ‘Tories.’ Maybe using the term ‘Conservatives’ might have showed more genuine feeling.
I can’t help thinking that Corbyn’s desperate plea for a ‘kinder, fairer politics’ was not just an altruistic belief in better politics but as the media has so much stuff on him it was a code for them, and rivals, to leave him alone or look like they're in the political gutter. Although JC has taken the moral high-ground on this I don’t think there’s much chance of that happening.
Overall the speech was sadly forgettable. Corbyn himself, apart from the odd sign of slipping back into his firebrand, shouty hard lefty persona, came across as a nice enough fella but also someone who just may have some potentially dangerous, slightly mad ideas.
My overall verdict – a sad day for the Labour Party, who I can not see staying united under this policy umbrella for four years, and for Her Majesty’s Opposition. Jeremy Corbyn, a political obsessive, who has spent his entire life at rallies, holding placards, deploring the injustices of western capitalism, looks like he will be more comfortable protesting outside No 10 than actually living there.