Four standing ovations for the new Labour leader as he offers a ‘kinder politics’ and ‘more caring’ society
JEREMY CORBYN won four standing ovations yesterday as he confounded critics with a confident conference speech.
Labour’s straight-talking new leader continued to defy convention, ditching sound bites to talk about the values of a “kinder politics” and “more caring” society.
Speaking just two weeks after winning the biggest mandate of any leader in Labour’s history, Mr Corbyn might have expected an enthusiastic reception.
However he moved members to their feet not once, not twice, not even three times — but four.
PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka said Mr Corbyn had “brilliantly answered his critics.”
“This was a speech of a real leader, someone who lives and breathes democracy and solidarity,” he added.
Mr Corbyn began by his 59-minute speech by confronting media commentators predicting the party’s demise under his leadership.
He pointed out Labour membership was up by 160,000 — more than 50,000 since he was elected and 3,000 in his Islington North constituency alone.
In a unifying message, he also promised “real debate” within the party in place of unrelenting “message discipline.”
But he was clear his election was a “mandate for change,” stating unequivocally: “Labour will be challenging austerity.
“It will be unapologetic about reforming our economy to challenge inequality and protect workers better.”
Mr Corbyn also stood his ground on opposition to Trident renewal and air strikes in Syria.
And the campaigning MP of more than 30 years said his rapid rise to leadership would not stop him championing human rights.
Indeed he used the speech to send a direct message to David Cameron.
He told the Tory PM he must personally intervene to stop the beheading and crucifixion of a 21-year-old Saudi protester and end Britain’s bid to run services which would be responsible for carrying out his execution.
Turning to the Tories’ record at home, Mr Corbyn branded the Trade Union Bill a “fundamental attack on human rights.”
He also tore apart the Tories’ “economic failure,” highlighted the housing crisis and condemned cuts to tax credits and benefits.
The Tories responded by claiming Mr Corbyn would “wreck the economy” and “weaken our nation’s defences.”
But Mr Corbyn pointed they are a party “made by the few — and paid for by the few.”
Mr Cameron — who has received £55 million from hedge funds since becoming Tory leader — wanted to “protect the few and tell all the rest of us to accept what we’re given,” he said.
And he warned the Tories were trying to “gerrymander” the next general election by wiping 2 million people off the electoral register.
But in a message of hope, he said the British people “never have to take what they are given.”
“I know there’s a big British majority for building a more equal society, for eliminating poverty and homelessness,” the Labour leader added.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the speech had drawn a “clear line in the sand” between Labour and the Tories.
“Labour can proclaim with pride that it is the only party of hope and fairness, the party of the people,” he said.