Hello one and all from the 2.13 service heading towards London Victoria from Brighton, after the 2021 Labour Party Conference.
I’m delighted to say it was a success and couldn’t be more thankful to everyone who made that possible. There are many names and I’ll get to thanking all of them, but a special hand goes to Joe Citrone, David Stewart, Margaret Peddell, Kit Gilmore, John Brackenridge and, of course, Russ Candler and Ben Keith.
A big hand goes to Chlöe Hopkins, who made several takes possible, and BBC cameraman Rob, who took the shots that saw me make it onto the weekend news!
Getting onto the BBC’s weekend news, with the board in tow!
🌹 | LABOUR CONFERENCE
— Star Sports Bookmakers (@StarSports_Bet) September 25, 2021
The Daily Mirror Party, which was worth getting absolutely soaked through for:
Meeting Adam Fleming of Newscast in the queue for said party, and the dance moves of Beth Rigby & the lobby whilst inside
Talking transport with Andy Burnham:
The superb Fire and Rehire campaign, led brilliantly by Barry Gardiner with top assistant Matthew Torbs in tow
The World Transformed, which provided hours of exciting fun (whether you agreed with the polices or not
Meeting Dr Elanor Janega
Making new friends from The Bakers Union and UNITE in the Fiddlers’ Elbow
An impromptu night out with awesome GMB delegations
Seeing the funniest drawing of Keir Starmer known to man:
Getting into a tie-off with Barry Gardiner:
— Matthew (@TorbsTalks) September 26, 2021
Managing to be headbutted by the whiteboard on the Monday thanks to the incredibly high winds
Not being able to enter the Hilton Metropole Bar, as a non-conference pass holder (perhaps I will have to join the Labour Party, just for that)
The anti-vaxxer presence, including the extremely large protests on Saturday
Not being able to get a pint at the Open Labour Party due to the popularity of their event
The Leadership asking Andy McDonald to argue against statutory sick pay at the living wage
Keir Starmer Exit Date:
Now 8/11 (from 5/6) to leave in 2024 or later
3/1 to leave in 2023 (from 11/4)
Next Labour Leader:
Rachel Reeves: 12/1 from 14/1
Wes Streeting: 25/1 from 50/1
Nick Thomas-Symonds: 28/1 from 33/1
Speech: Maliha Reza on Yarl’s Wood
Dance Moves: Beth Rigby (with very honourable mention to Jim Pickard)
Fringe: Labour Friends of Migration / Culture in the Culture War
Pub: Fiddlers Elbow!
The Labour Shitposting List
It can’t be a Labour Conference without for a whole host of absolutely mad takes, so please do enjoy the unofficial list of the hottest takes from Labour’s Conference:
Keir Today, But What Tomorrow?
It’s fair to say that Keir Starmer has had an eventful week at his first party conference as leader. A three-day long fight over rule changes preceded the biggest speech of his political career so far, with a row over political civility thrown in for good measure too.
Starmer’s team are very happy with the result of the past week – and especially the rule changes which give MP’s far more power over who can be elected party leader – and they were obviously happy with the leader’s speech and some punchy responses to heckling in the hall.
They will look back on this week’s ‘work’ with satisfaction, and be sure that a clear break with ‘Corbynism’ will play well to the public, but there are plenty of immediate issues to fix on the road to the next election.
A YouGov poll published earlier this week shows that for the first time, Labour voters want Starmer to resign (as do voters more generally), and Labour are eight points behind the Conservatives in YouGov’s latest poll despite the fuel crisis which has besieged the country (and is still causing issues) coinciding with the conference.
📢 BREAKING: For the first time, Labour voters want Starmer to resign (as do voters more generally).
✅ Remain leader: 31% (-2)
❌ Resign as leader: 36% (+1)
✅ Remain leader: 37% (-1)
❌ Resign as leader: 41% (+3)
— Stats for Lefties (@LeftieStats) September 28, 2021
Starmer’s only had one in person conference, and many who support him would also claim that he needs more time without restrictions (something he’s complained about a great deal), but he’s had over a year in the role and is struggling (in my opinion) to take advantages presented to him or to craft his own narrative to appeal to the electorate. It may be possible to win an election by doing only one of the two things mentioned above, but doing neither presents a mountain to climb.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg (who appeared to be impressed with Starmer’s conference) did touch on these uncertainties in her signing off piece: “But the leader’s team cannot be remotely sure that the country is ready to embrace him yet, or that he could one day display the sizzle of a political star.”
Based on the last week, that could be on the generous side.
Starmer’s much anticipated kind conference speech was meant to answer the question “What sort of Prime Minister does Keir Starmer want to be?”
There will be different answers to that question – perhaps dependent upon where in the Labour Party you may stand – but it was difficult to think of a clear answer after his marathon address on Wednesday.
Starmer started with powerful testimony about his mother’s illness – something which landed much better than his toolmaker joke about his dad and Boris Johnson – and responded well to the many heckles which punctuated what became a 90-minute session.
However, the speech took wild lurches in direction, which obscured the three main policy ‘announcements’ on mental health treatment, home insulation and education.
The theme of the speech was meant to be “Work. Care. Equality. Security”, and whilst it was used as the closing argument, it is hard to say that those concepts tied the speech together.
Starmer went from personal issues to levelling up; The pride he had of being the CPS’s Chief Prosecutor to Making Brexit work; From robotics to climate change, and education to the last Labour Government. All of these issues are important, but watching live there was a real sense that an opportunity had been missed to have a central takeaway.
Another noticeable thing was some of the incredible lines in the speech which had the appearance of being computer generated. For examples:
“I have lost count of how many business leaders have told me that they wish their time horizon could be longer.
So, when I say that Labour pledges to change the priority duty of directors to make the long-term success of the company the main priority we will do so with the blessing of British business.”
“They want to reintroduce Latin in state schools. So let me put this crisis in the only language that Boris Johnson will understand. Carpe Diem.”
“Starmer says “Crown Prosecution Service” are “Three very important words. “‘Crown’ brings home the responsibility of leading part of the nation’s legal system”, “Prosecution tells you that crime hurts” and that “Service” shows “the job is bigger than your own career.”
Onwards and very much upwards, to Manchester, where I’ll be for the Conservative Party Conference – I hope to see some of you there!
But for now, I have an appointment with a certain James Bond…
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.