What I want to see in Corbyn's speech: by a member

As a Labour member, this is my third party conference and it’s certainly the strangest. Colleagues commented on the lacklustre feel of the previous Labour Conferences we attended but without a reference point, for me, they actually seemed upbeat. This year’s, when compared to the Miliband conference and even last year, is downbeat for sure.

The first thing I noticed is how empty it felt. It feels like nobody is here! A geographical fluke? Maybe… the Liverpool site does seem more spread out. But even when you enter the exhibition room it does not take long to notice that there are also no corporates here. Yes, Labour is an opposition party and will naturally attract less businesses but the sheer void suggests their lack of interest is down to something else.

Some members welcome that the pesky corporates and lobbyists are not here but this is a problematic attitude to say the least. Wanting to exclude the business community that is so important for the economy and our day-to-day lives is as ridiculous as excluding women from politics was in the past. Businesses make up over half of the jobs in our economy - we must be working with them, not against. 

The conversation around Corbyn’s re-election is largely muted. It’s like an awkward family gathering where you are aware of the underlying tensions but no one is talking about it for the sake of putting on a good show. Perhaps everyone is anticipating his speech, potentially the most important of his career to date, to see what happens next first. 

So with that in mind, here are the three top things I want to see in the speech:

A sincere olive branch extended to the PLP not caveated with any “my way or the highway” rhetoric. 

Some personal responsibility and leadership. Continuously repeating that the base has said or wants something and therefore, the PLP must toe the line is one of my biggest frustrations with Corbyn. He’s a leader for the PLP and the base, not a delegate of the base. 

Speak to the electorate. Ever since his election, Corbyn has been much better at speaking to the converted instead of the electorate. The PLP needs to start believing in Corbyn’s ability to win an election - to believe that, he needs to demonstrate he is able to present Labour to the electorate, not just those that have already voted for him. 

I’ll check in tomorrow and score these out of five. Until then, we have one more night of the awkward family meal to go. 

Metin Parlak

Michael Stott

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search