Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, on another Tory selection disaster, Brown's future and the Sun.

1. Marginal seat left "without functioning Conservative Association" after latest selection disaster

Political Scrapbook reports on trouble for the Tories in Hyndburn, Lancashire, where the entire local leadership has resigned in protest at a selection shortlist imposed by Conservative Central HQ.

2. Will Labour let a defeated Brown carry on?

Over at PoliticalBetting, Mike Smithson reckons he'll now win his bet on Gordon Brown remaining Labour leader into 2011.

3. If Gordon Brown's predictions are anything to go by . . .

Elsewhere, the Telegraph's Ben Brogan posts a video of Brown from Election Night 1992 in which the future PM claims the Tories have lost.

4. This is very interesting

Penny Red blogs on the "Give Your Vote" campaign, in which people who do not plan to vote can sign up to receive notification of how one real person in Ghana, Bangladesh or Afghanistan would vote in their place, giving a voice to those affected by British foreign policy.

5. Was it the Sun wot lost it?

Rupert Murdoch always likes to back a winner, but has he got it wrong this time? The FT's Alex Barker looks at how the Tories' poll ratings have fallen since the Sun defected from Labour.

Sign up now to CommentPlus for the pick of the day's opinion, comment and analysis in your inbox at 8am.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.