27 September 2018 

Labour Party Conference 2018 - Wednesday update 

By Freddie Palmer 

Rather than join the cascade (get it) of opinion that greeted the closing speech by Jeremy Corbyn yesterday, I thought I'd discuss lessons learnt from this year's Labour Party Conference.

Time to analyse is limited as thoughts move to the Tory psychodrama likely to play out in Birmingham next week but one thing worth reflecting upon is the Party's move to box in the Prime Minister on a General Election or a 'People’s Vote' on Brexit. 

Don’t underestimate what a shift this was for the Party. As much as the position was fudged, the PM will be forced to respond (grab your popcorn for the Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning!). It was smart boxing in the end by the Labour Leader, who many are saying is finding his feet three years into the job - though this is yet to be reflected in the polls.

What Corbyn has started to do well, and was reflected throughout the conference, is his ability to define himself against his enemies, a model used so famously well by Margaret Thatcher. This has cemented his core support but feels over-stretched when he referred to the Party as “the new common sense". 

Aside from Brexit, as Mark Walker said in his piece on Tuesday - following April's 'Housing for the Many Green Paper' - housing was the buzz word on the Conference fringe. Whilst many discussions on housing were pragmatic, as Labour's new Planning Commission begins we will wait to see to what extent the private development sector is invited into the tent.

The announcement that a Labour government would form a dedicated housing department to support "the biggest home building programme in half a century" was promising but it was clear in Liverpool that property developers are very much on the list of enemies of the “many and not the few", along with the 'Main Stream Media' and water companies. 

Other areas of focus included a reform of the Planning Inspectorate to allow councillors greater flexibility to refuse applications and a clear demand for consultation at the earliest possible opportunity; something relevant whether or not Labour gain power if working in a Labour controlled borough. 

This was the last gathering of the Party before we leave the EU. As people reflect on their hangovers and videos of the Conference karaoke, they do so knowing that, as enjoyable as the last few days have been, people leave Liverpool with more questions than when they arrived, but maybe now no longer the time to find the answers.

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