After an exhilarating and exhausting Labour Party conference the philososloth is now safely back in the tree. Having taken a little time to chew over the political cud, your sloth (who was) on the ground would like to share some observations about my experiences from the conference.
- Brighton is lovely
Not only were there deck chairs set out in a most considerate way, but something about the chilled out, veggie, bean-eating air of Brighton felt like a natural habitat for the philososloth. Full marks.
- Corbyn is here to stay
Despite subversive mutterings from the so-called right of the party, it doesn’t look like Jeremy Corbyn is going anywhere anytime soon. Not only did Corbyn win the leadership contest by a whopping margin, the conference, which is an ideal chance for the party tear itself apart in public, has gone by relatively smoothly. Corbyn’s speech, though poorly structured and rambling, set out the values the Labour Party will follow under his leadership. Predictably left-wing and state-centred, but many solid ideas there about housing, human rights and a focus on green policies.
In his charming way he was even considerate to those who want to kick him out by saying that the Labour party has a clear aim of doing well in Wales, Scotland, London and Bristol next year. That gives him until at least next year. Maybe it’s time for Labour’s gap year. They can do crazy things and find themselves for the next year or so. (One of the very few benefits of having a five year fixed parliament: You won’t have to get serious until around year three)
- The philososloth caught a whiff of hope
It’s only a few months since Labour’s massive election loss, and the philososloth had expected the atmosphere at conference to resemble that of a particularly dismal funeral (albeit a rather well attended one). But there is genuine hope that Corbyn is what he says he is. A new way of doing politics. In fact, one aged lady who your sloth on the ground got talking to slapped me on the thigh and said with great gusto: “I’m so delighted that we lost in May! It’s so refreshing!” This sentiment was repeated over and over again. The idea that we (whoever we are) have finally taken our party back. Whether the “we” are a substantial enough grouping to make the party worth holding onto, remains to be seen.
- The latte-sippers were on the outside
In the midst of this heady optimism and joyous self-congratulation at ousting main-stream politicians some were nevertheless looking hangdog. It was easy to spot them. They were dressed in suits, holding lattes and looking at the scampering, scruffy crew with expressions of singular gloom. These types now rue their PPE from a snazzy red-brick university, all those hours spent in the debating society and getting that internship at a think tank. What’s the point of all this prepping, if this is the new way of the world? How depressing!
- Immigration is back on the agenda
After the pathetic mewling of the Labour Party over the last few years, it’s refreshing to finally have a leader so uncompromisingly and unapologetically extolling the virtues of immigration. There is an urgent need for a major politician who is not afraid to say it as it is; that immigration is good for the UK. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is also well-placed to address the fact that to many people it doesn’t feel as if immigration is good for the UK. Labour should start setting out that message early, and offer policies to ensure that the genuine benefits of immigration are distributed across the UK. (In this sloth’s humble opinion).
In short it is a fascinating time in British politics and I was delighted to be there for my first conference. Further reflections and ruminations will follow.