Jeremy Corbyn’s Conference Speech: Labour is Now the Mainstream

On the Election

I have never been more proud to be your elected leader. Our election campaign gave people strength. It brought millions on to the electoral register and inspired millions to go to vote for the first time.

And Labour was the Party of unity, bringing generations and communities together, rather than pitting young and old against each other, as the Tories did. We will never seek to squeeze one generation to support another. Under Labour, people will win together.

Brexit

A Brexit that uses powers returned from Brussels to support a new industrial strategy to upgrade our economy in every region and nation. One that puts our economy first not fake immigration targets that fan the flames of fear. We will never follow the Tories into the gutter of blaming migrants for the ills of society. It isn’t migrants who drive down wages and conditions but the worst bosses in collusion with a Conservative government that never misses a chance to attack trade unions and weaken people’s rights at work.

On the Tories

The Tory approach to the economy isn’t entrepreneurial. It’s extractive. They’re not focused on long-term investment and wealth creation. When you look at what they do rather than what they say it’s all about driving down wages, services and standards … to make as much money as quickly as possible with government not as the servant of the people but of global corporations. And their disregard for rampant inequality the hollowing out of our public services, the disdain for the powerless and the poor have made our society more brutal and less caring.

Now that degraded regime has a tragic monument the chilling wreckage of Grenfell Tower. A horrifying fire in which dozens perished an entirely avoidable human disaster.

Housing

We will insist that every home is fit for human habitation, a proposal this Tory government voted down. And we will control rents - when the younger generation’s housing costs are three times more than those of their grandparents, that is not sustainable.

Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections. We also need to tax undeveloped land held by developers and have the power to compulsorily purchase. As Ed Miliband said, "Use it or lose it". Families need homes.

Regeneration

Regeneration under a Labour government will be for the benefit of the local people, not private developers, not property speculators.

First, people who live on an estate that’s redeveloped must get a home on the same site and the same terms as before.

No social cleansing, no jacking up rents, no exorbitant ground rents.

And second councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place.

Real regeneration, yes, but for the many not the few.

Public Services

Our public servants make the difference every day, between a decent and a threadbare society.

Everyone praises them. But it is Labour that values them and is prepared to give them the pay rise they deserve and protect the services they provide.

Year after year the Tories have cut budgets and squeezed public sector pay, while cutting taxes for the highest earners and the big corporations.

You can’t care for the nation’s health when doctors and nurses are being asked to accept falling living standards year after year.

You can’t educate our children properly in ever larger class sizes with more teachers than ever leaving the profession.

You can’t protect the public on the cheap.

Trump

We must be a candid friend to the United States, now more than ever.

The values we share are not served by building walls, banning immigrants on the basis of religion, polluting the planet, or pandering to racism.

And let me say frankly – the speech made by the US president to the United Nations last week was deeply disturbing.

It threatened war and talked of tearing up international agreements.

the New Consensus

A new consensus is emerging from the great economic crash and the years of austerity, when people started to find political voice for their hopes for something different and better.

2017 may be the year when politics finally caught up with the crash of 2008 – because we offered people a clear choice.

We need to build a still broader consensus around the priorities we set in the election, making the case for both compassion and collective aspiration.

This is the real centre of gravity of British politics. We are now the political mainstream.

Corbyn’s Urgency Creates a new Political Centre Ground

Jeremy Corbyn’s first two Labour conference speeches were overcast by disbelief, and then by Shadow Cabinet resignations and a leadership challenge after the EU referendum.

But this speech saw Corbyn, serenaded to his White Stripes theme tune, not as a dead man walking but as a prime minister-in-waiting.

He spoke with a sense of urgency. Labour did not win the general election but anticipates another snap election to finish the job.

Corbyn pitched himself to the country as standing not on the radical left but on the middle ground, taking advantage of the government’s weakened position to set the national agenda.

There were the typical talking points condemning austerity cuts to public services and social security, but in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire there was deeper emphasis on housing policy to tackle inequality.

Corbyn attempted to distinguish Labour’s Brexit position by committing to protecting the rights of EU residents. But his ambiguity on post-Brexit single market membership is unlikely to satisfy pro-Europeans. Brexit remains the elephant in the room that distracts Labour from the rest of its manifesto.

On foreign policy, Corbyn promised to stand up to Donald Trump and a break from supporting oppressive Middle East governments - an easy way of signalling strong leadership.

There was a touching tribute to Diane Abbott who has been subjected to appalling online abuse. But with the Brighton conference being overshadowed by antisemitism and intimidation of journalists, it was disappointing that Corbyn did not directly address toxicity among the party’s ranks.

Labour still has work to do to improve its public image and win the 64 seats it needs to form a government. But with Labour starting to lead in the polls and the Tories in disarray, Corbyn can be taken seriously as the man to return Labour to government.

More about the author

About the author

Jacob Richardson began his career with Disclaimer and writes on culture, politics and society. Politically he is a democratic socialist and Labour Party supporter. His other interests include cinema, psychoanalysis and professional wrestling.

Follow Jacob on Twitter.

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