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View from conference

Declan McHugh, Associate Director

Labour’s Conference officially opened today, just over 24 hours after the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader. Moderate MPs awoke to the realisation that he has been strengthened and not weakened by the failed challenge. Many rue the contest and see the timing as a serious mistake. Some believe that Corbyn should have been given another year before being confronted. At the very least, many feel that it was a tactical error to have forced the election before the summer, allowing Corbyn to campaign over the holiday period without the distraction of parliament.

Corbyn appeared on the Marr show this morning in confident mood, with plans to open up policy making to the party membership and a lukewarm reassurance to members of the PLP that the ‘vast majority’ should survive re-selections. Despite the calls for unity being issued by all sides, Labour is seriously divided. The General Secretary’s opening speech to Conference included a strong defence of party staff and Labour MPs, and a central emphasis on ‘clause one socialism’ – a reminder that Labour’s constitution commits the party to the parliamentary route to power, which many feel is not the core purpose of the Corbynite wing.

Leading moderates including the opposition whips are attempting to broker a deal which will allow a return of at least some of the shadow ministers who resigned in the summer. However Jeremy Corbyn has so far declined to agree to any accommodation. Former shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander MP, meanwhile, who managed the Owen Smith campaign, has gone on TV to say that she would not return to the shadow cabinet, with a restatement of her belief that the Corbyn operation is ‘dysfunctional’.

Coming up tomorrow

Monday 26 September agenda

09:30 onwards

  • Foreign Affairs: Shadow Foreign and Brexit Secretary Emily Thornberry will address the conference
  • International Development: Shadow DfiD Secretary Kate Osamor speaks
  • Defence: Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis will speak

Midday

  • Economy: Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will make his keynote speech, as well as shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rebecca Long-Bailey will give a speech.
  • Business: Shadow Business Secretary Jon Trickett addresses conference
  • Work and Pensions: Debbie Abrahams addresses delegates
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