Tuesday is the day of the Leaders Speech, and even though there were rumours of it being replaced with some focus groups, I was pleased to see it still on the agenda. Whilst I did do some other things, this speech was pretty much the focus of the day.
I was bemused by the fact that one of the gossip headlines was an aparrent argument within Jeremys team on if he should wear a suit and tie or not. With issues like this still making news, it just shows that a lot of the media don’t really understand what has happened, but I was a bit disappointed to see Jeremy emerge with a tie on, I do fear that he is going to lose his “brand” slowly over time.
Then he launched into his speech. He said a lot of thanks to different people, from the other leadership candidates to the new shadow cabinet and the activists and members within the party. For me, one huge gap was any mention of Councillors and those working in local Government. Whilst its a bit self indulgent, because I am a Councillor, I would have expected even a mention of the existence of councillors because we are front line (to quote Johanna Baxter earlier in the day) and we are the ones who are going to get the brunt of the impact of his leadership in the next 5 years. Oh well,
The main theme of the speech was around renewing politics and I was pleased to see the “Honest Talking” approach and I hope this goes forward. The challenges on Housing, NHS and social services was good too.
The other gap though was about the Deficit, not so much about what he thought, but how we were going to tackle it. The same thing happened last year (by mistake, not intent) and when it was highlighted that the shadow chancellor had covered it, this was ridiculed. To do this as a deliberate strategy this year was a mistake.
The highlighting of the Redcar issue was great as was the highlighting of the balance of investment. Also I was really enthusiastic about the drive for more community engagement and the support for the self employed. I do also really support the nationalisation of the rail service and stronger support for Mental Health.
I was disappointed to hear his comments about Trident, but I think this is always going to be an issue we disagree on and my fear is that if we don’t have a solid position, we will have a split cabinet and we lose collective cabinet responsibility. My fear is that he is falling into the Tory Trick of assuming that because he got the mandate through the leadership election, that all of those who voted for him also want rid of the nuclear deterrent and the knock on effects of that. It should be a party decision to change our policy, not just his whim.
It was clear too that he is not adverse to just announcing policy too, despite the pledge that policy was to be decided by the party including the change in Education. I hope that is due ratification with the NPF.
He gave us a few quotes too, which was quite good, including from Kier Hardy and it is just right that he acknowledged the quotes so not to be accused of plagurism. Its just a pity that he didn’t acknowledge all of his sources as it seems large chunks of his speech were lifted from a speech from years ago.
He got two standing ovations, one at the end but the one in the middle about bullying on social media, which I found interesting, especially as the source of much of that bullying has come from Corbyn supporters thoughout the leadership campaign. I think that was a good move.
So overall, not a bad speech, lacking in the “how” rather than the “what” but we have to remember that he has only been in the job 2 weeks.
The views of fellow attendees was very mixed, many low conversations being disappointed not to have more meat to take home and inspire, but on the flip side, the highlighting of solid socialist issues went down well with the hall.