Corbyn praised for ‘best speech ever’ as he vows Labour will be for the many
by Conrad Landin
LABOUR will fight to “win over the unconvinced” to build a “socialism of the 21st century,” Jeremy Corbyn vowed in his address to the party’s conference yesterday.
The re-elected leftwinger was praised for his best performance ever as he announced Labour would end arms sales to murderous regimes and allow councils to borrow to build social housing.
His policy-heavy offering also included “in-sourcing” council services and beefed-up rights for self-employed workers. He said Labour’s burgeoning membership should not be seen as a “threat” but as a “vast democratic resource” to put Labour on the path to victory.
“Winning justice for all and changing society for the benefit of all is at the heart of what Labour is about,” he said.
“So yes, our party is about campaigning and it’s about protest too. But most of all it’s about winning power in local and national government, to deliver the real change our country so desperately needs.”
He attacked Theresa May for presiding over “David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge,” saying: “They are the party of the privileged few, funded by the privileged few, for the benefit of the privileged few.
“The old model is broken. We’re in a new era that demands a politics and economics that meets the needs of our own time.”
Pundits and commentators said Mr Corbyn’s messaging and delivery had improved since his election as leader last year.
The speech built on 10 policy pledges approved at the conference, guaranteeing strong public services, public ownership, cutting income inequality, better workers’ rights and “peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy.”
He said arms sales would be “suspended” when there are “credible reports of human rights abuses or war crimes being committed.” He put Saudi Arabia first on the list for its humanitarian violations in Yemen. Mr Corbyn noted how Britain had been unique in seeing a rise in left-wing movement politics in an established political party rather than in a new force like in Spain or Greece.
But he said Labour still had work to do in taking its message to the wider population — and could only do so by rejecting “trench warfare” and putting out a united message.
“Our job is now to win over the unconvinced to our vision. Only that way can we secure the Labour government we need,” he said.
“And let’s be frank, no-one will be convinced of a vision, promoted by a divided party.
Even serial right-wing rebel John Woodcock agreed, but then tried to use the ban on arms to Saudi Arabia to drive a wedge between Mr Corbyn and his union backers.
But Unite general secretary Mr McCluskey welcomed Mr Corbyn’s speech.
“What we heard from Jeremy today is a leader determined to rebuild trust and nourish hope,” he said.
“We can leave this conference today confident that the policies needed to deliver a real alternative are taking shape.”
GMB leader Tim Roache, whose union backed Owen Smith in the leadership election, said: “Jeremy’s speech today is what Labour is about — a positive vision for the country that addresses the hopes, needs and concerns of real people, speaking to the millions not for millionaires.
“Now we have to get on and deliver it together, as a united party and a united movement.”
Mr Corbyn also put his pledge for a “national education service” — supporting learning throughout life — at the heart of his speech.
The National Union of Teachers also welcomed his commitment for an “arts pupil premium” to give every child “the chance to learn an instrument take part in drama and dance and have regular access to a Public-sector union Unison leader Dave Prentis said: “Today Jeremy talked about Labour getting ready for — and winning — the next election.
“After a largely wasted year for the party, that’s what the country needed to hear.”