As I was walking into the conference hall in Leicester I was greeted with the grim of sight of some poor souls selling the socialist worker, this was to be a grim reminder of what the Labour had become. Beyond the clapping, verve and passion that was displayed at De Montfort University, I couldn’t rid myself of the sentiment that this party is becoming one akin to a zombie gorging on the remains of its past electoral successes and its electoral future. The election of Jeremy Corbyn was a vexing signal that Labour was a party turning in on itself after failing to identify why they lost the last election; instead of coming to a conclusion as to why we lost we decided that we’d ignore what the voters were saying and launch a political charge of the light brigade.
The 21st century bearded messiah visited us and gave a speech in typical Jeremy Corbyn style; by that I mean it lacked any form of structure, tempo, rhythm or any other necessary quality in a speech given by a professional politician. Corbyn’s speech was by far the worst of the day; however there were glimmers of hope from speakers such as Gloria Del piero, and Glenis Willmott who showed there isn’t necessarily a dearth of talent within the party. The leaders speech of course was greeted with a standing ovation, and his mere presence had the majority of members eternally grateful; after-all it is a rare affair that a party leader circuits the regional conferences. The membership are growing and i imagine will become more important under JC’s leadership, maybe this heralds a new dawn in involving the membership?
There were many discussions on how to retain the large membership which had exploded the ranks of the party, plenty of dialogue but little in the way of concrete ideas or policy. The long time members are well aware of the potential for these labour virgins to slip away, however the bureaucratic nature of the party and talk of evolving structures is a sign that despite the urgent need for action none will be forthcoming any time soon. Transforming constituency party meetings into hubs of policy discussing action packed politics isn’t going to happen anytime soon; neither will a process of making it easier to become actively involved in the party. Mass movements have a lot of energy which dissipates post-haste and it is already clear that time is of the essence to entice new members to become staying members.
I would argue this conference encapsulated the new mood within the Labour party. Many feel at home once again and believe this new wave of socialism is exactly what the party needs. For those who aren’t on board it’s a worrying time; little was said of the new culture of online cybernats, only one question came up on it (from someone who has been bullied online) and it was met with pretty much stony silence from the hall. Tom Watson certainly speaks a good game about addressing the issues which are starting to manifest themselves but again there seemed to be little of concrete solutions or even proposals to stop what is happening. The word electability wasn’t used much and when talking ahead to the future was concerned, no-one seemed to mention how to overcome the difficulty of marketing Jeremy to the country. That was the big problem which i found; we are a party which is content to talk to ourselves cheering on our messiah, until the Conservatives come and nail him to the electoral cross.