Author Mark Twain is said to have quipped that ‘reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated’. The same can certainly be said of the ‘Corbyn project’ over the last week or so.
In the run-up to Labour’s annual conference, which ended today, some left-wing commentators were predicting the end of ‘the project’ – linking this demise to one particular decision on one particular form of democracy for selecting Labour’s parliamentary candidates.
And indeed, those prophecies briefly looked to have something of the self-fulfilling about them as delegates to the conference split between unions and constituency parties and the system members had been whipped up to believe was the ‘only’ democratic one was narrowly defeated in favour of another that is no less democratic.
The defeat of the supposedly ‘only democratic’ system triggered outrage and recriminations among some activists, along with further predictions of doom.
But a barnstorming speech by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey reminded most of just how central the unions are to the movement that is transforming the UK’s political landscape and will soon transform our society.
A moving, rousing display in support of oppressed Palestinians yesterday reminded everyone of the absolute centrality of solidarity – and how much we have to be united about.
And a colossal closing speech by Jeremy Corbyn, which laid out the successes so far and the challenges still ahead – and which has been lauded even by many centrists as well as putting the fear of God into the Establishment – put the attention of most people where it needs to be: the path ahead to Downing Street and government.
The Labour leader touched on the furore and reaction during his speech – and underlined the obvious lesson:
It’s been a triumphant end to a conference that had a rocky start that was entirely avoidable – and not everyone on the left did themselves credit in that rocky start. It’s to be hoped that lessons will have been learned – and the importance of those lessons of discipline, priority and focus on the cause will not soon be forgotten.
Labour is close to government. The suffering millions of this country are close to rescue. Eyes on the prize.
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