Labour Party Conference, 10 things we learnt
Our Public Affairs team compile the top 10 pieces of insight from this year’s event.
Although the Conference was overshadowed by the Supreme Court announcement yesterday, once again it was not without its controversy following a move by senior party officials to oust the Deputy Leader Tom Watson and public divisions over Labour’s position on Brexit.
1. Corbyn’s grip on power is beginning to wane with rumours ahead of and during Conference about his age, ability and stamina to continue as Leader. The Conference also highlighted clear divisions within the Party and Unions over Labour’s Brexit position and approach to the environment.
2. With the fear of power moving away from the Corbyn movement, his team and supporters tried to stamp their authority by launching a failed coup to get rid of Deputy Leader Tom Watson and manipulate a Conference vote to back Corbyn’s divisive position on Brexit. The Party are planning on further alienating team Watson over the coming months.
3. Some MPs used the Conference to position themselves as the heir to Corbyn. Front runners included the Momentum favourite Rebecca Long-Bailey, as well as Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer.
4. With a General Election looming, Labour are trying to win back the people vs. the establishment narrative from Boris Johnson.
5. A key policy announcement intended to attract swing voters was to push for a 4-day working week for no less pay. This change would be the biggest employment and business overhaul in a generation.
6. In his leader’s speech, Corbyn announced that Labour would create a public drugs company which would challenge the “monopoly” of the big pharmaceutical firms who charge “exorbitant fees” to the NHS. This policy was introduced to combat the threat of big US pharmaceutical companies flooding the market in a future trade deal.
7. People close to the Labour leadership have branded them as “old men in a hurry”, who are seeking to implement some of their most radical policies within one term in office.
8. The Labour Party are divided over their position on Brexit. Many of the shadow front bench would like Corbyn to back a remain position as it would be easier to defend on the doorsteps, whilst he would like to stay neutral on the issue. In a controversial vote on the Conference floor the Party decided their plan would be to win a general election, renegotiate the Brexit deal and then put it to a public vote.
9. Labour are planning on having a General Election before Christmas but will only vote for one once Boris Johnson has secured an extension to Brexit.
10. Labour published a fresh ‘Green New Deal’ which aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. This is meant to position them as being ‘greener’ than the Conservative Party, but has been branded unachievable by environmental groups.
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