Claims of disunity seem overstated following our team's visit to conference
Jeremy Corbyn's first speech as leader was a highly anticipated event. Many supporters felt it was an opportunity to get sceptics and critics to treat him seriously, as well as taking back the agenda after two weeks of teething issues.
The speech itself can best be described as an introduction to Corbyn the man, his beliefs and values. He reminded us of his longstanding service to constituents and far flung international causes alike.
If Corbyn presented himself as a unionist at the TUC address, here he was the perpetual activist. Leadership would not change him, he said.
Therein lies the issue for moderates. Some are willing to give him a chance but they are left scratching their heads as to when Corbyn will transform from leading his movement to potentially leading the UK by broadening his appeal.
Corbyn is yet to make a significant address to the wider electorate. Much of the rhetoric remains too focused on the base - if continued, he could risk isolating sections of voters he will ultimately still depend on, regardless of how many young people register to vote.
The other key group that Corbyn must keep in mind is the PLP. Here, Corbyn's efforts to revolutionise policy making in the Labour Party towards greater member involvement may jar. It's true that Labour members have been neglected for some time but Corbyn must position himself as a facilitator between the PLP and the base to maintain harmony on both sides instead of side stepping the PLP entirely.
While these issues remain at large, Corbyn can still walk away from a successful first conference (so far...). Claims of disunity now seem overstated as the Labour Party has demonstrated a relatively brave and united face, despite how hard hacks try to hunt for signs of the opposite.
There is still much work to be done but you cannot doubt the genuine excitement and energy that many members at conference have demonstrated.
- Metin Parlak