By Campaign Agent Matthew Waterfield
This years Labour Party conference was the polar opposite to last years in terms of the atmosphere around the place. Whilst the 2016 conference came at the end of a bruising leadership election, Labour came to Brighton this year still glowing from their impressive election campaign earlier this year.
However, the event got off to an unexpected start when John McDonnell told a fringe meeting that Labour was undertaking “war game-type scenario planning” for a potential run on the pound if they won the next election. His comments dominated the headlines for the next day, forcing Labour to talk about their economic credibility rather than their opposition to austerity.
A variety of fringe events took place throughout the conference, most of which were linked to Labour’s favourite topics of discussion – poverty, austerity and living standards. However, significantly harder questions were also posed, including on how Labour could win ‘on the coast and in the country’ and on whether or not the housing crisis could be solved without ‘sacrificing the countryside’.
Following a dispute about whether or not he’d get a chance to speak at the conference, Sadiq Khan spent much of his speech praising Jeremy Corbyn, receiving widespread applause at the end. During her speaking slot, Emily Thornberry took the chance to make jokes at Boris Johnson’s expense – at one point advocating for a ‘Brexit paternity test’, referencing Johnson’s history of impregnating various women.
The centrepiece, of course, was Jeremy Corbyn’s conference address. Well received by the Labour members present, it focussed on housing, but the key point Corbyn intended to make was how near Labour are to power. He declared that “Labour is ready” and said it with a level of confidence that he never could before the snap election.
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