Between the 24th and 27th of September the Labour Party held their annual conference in Brighton. The atmosphere could only be described as odd; for a party that had only lost a General Election a few months back the way the atmosphere was one of jubilation. Even the General Secretary’s more pragmatic point of view could not spoil what was essentially a large party for the Corbynistas.
The Labour Party Conference
The actual conference began on the Sunday with a wide range of speakers most notably Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary and Iain McNicol, General Secretary of the Labour Party. Ms Abbott referred to the Grenfell disaster and called for an ‘immigration amnesty’ to ensure illegal immigrants could share their stories without fear of repercussions. Mr McNicol’s speech was much more down to earth reminding the conference that despite gaining 32 seats they had lost 6. However, one major surprise were the release of facts surrounding Labours digital campaign. One of the Snapchat campaigns was reported to have reached 7.3 million people within the UK demonstrating the sheer power of social media.
The Monday contained some of the current Labour heavyweights who took the stage to repeatedly condemn the Conservatives. Keir Starmer set out Labours view on Brexit including the requirement to remain within the single market while the transitional period commences. This was followed by the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell who criticised the use of zero-hour contracts and pledged to repeal the Trade Union Act. It must also be said Mr McDonnell referenced the McDonald strike by workers in Cambridge and Crayfield as an example of the bad working conditions that the Conservatives have allowed in this country.
The Tuesday contained some major announcements for young people by Angela Rayner, the Shadow Secretary for Education and Barbara Keeley, Shadow Cabinet Member for Mental Health and Social Care. Mrs Rayner announced universal childcare for 2-4-year olds and warned against dangerous cuts to childcare. In response, she pledged £8 Billion for new school buildings and £13 Billion to update the whole school estate with other massive increases in resources for teaching. Mrs Keeley claimed the Conservatives were failing young people over mental health services and criticised their lack of action in the matter. This is a matter that affects young people desperately with a severe lack of facilities and care available for young people to stop their silent suffering.
Wednesday, the finale, was the occasion upon which Jeremy Corbyn came out to speak to the entire conference. He re-emphasised the importance of youth and re-affirmed everything his colleagues had said earlier in the week. However, he made yet another major announcement by declaring rent controls as a fair way to ensure no extortionate rental costs are imposed. The increase in affordable housing was also proposed as a way of helping first time buyers who have struggled in recent years. Mr Corbyn also agreed with his Shadow Chancellors proposals to remove the Public Sector Pay Cap to ensure wages could keep up in a fair and just way. Of course, following his Union roots he called for increased workplace democracy to ensure everyone gets more of a say in the final decisions including the younger workers. He called for the abolition of all fees for higher education be that universities or vocational qualifications so to extend the promise he made to young people before the last election.
By James Sullivan-McHale