Thursday October 14th, 2021
It’s always difficult for a party in opposition: you don’t want to give away your tax and spend plans too early and factions on the left and the right always make it difficult for the Party Leader. And so it was for Keir Starmer at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.
Jeremy Corbyn lurked on the fringes like an unwanted guest at a wedding feast while his supporters staged a carefully timed resignation from the shadow cabinet and trade unionists and other delegates carped noisily from the wings. All this overshadowed anything Sir Keir had to say. And matters were not helped by the Guardian’s columnist describing the essay he published prior to the conference as “a necklace of platitudes strung together with banalities, and fastened with cliché”. (That’s what I call great writing – the Guardian journalist, not the essay.) And Keir Starmer’s big speech was constantly interrupted by a small but vocal group of Corbynistas. But at least, I believe, he is nudging Labour in the right direction.
Of course, it doesn’t always go well for Conservative Leaders either. Who can forget Prime Minister Theresa May’s last conference speech? While there was no public dissent, she lost her voice, letters started dropping off the sign behind her, and a demonstrator walked up handing her a P45 mid-speech embarrassing both her armed police protection squad and the Party accreditation team who had provided him with a pass in the first place.
As I write this, I have just returned from the Conservative Conference in Manchester. It was incredibly cheerful with journalists telling me the average age attending was a good 10 years less than Labour’s Conference punch-up in Brighton.
To me, the most important event was Boris telling the Conference that he is determined to sort out social care so that people with Alzheimer’s and other debilitating illnesses won’t find they are penniless after paying for their care home. And Boris is determined to take us into a high wage, high skilled society no longer dependent on cheap East European labour now made possible through Brexit.
With the UK now being only one of three countries in the world with over 100 ‘unicorns’ (private companies worth over $1billion), he told us, and the first in the world to start the COVID vaccine programme, Britain can hold its head up high.