Labour Party Conference 2016 – “What No Gauntlet”?

Gauntlet was thrown down – returned with increased majority
Labour Party Conference 2016 – “What No Gauntlet”?

For those who have followed my ramblings in the past you will have noticed it is some time since I last “blogged” so I trust this doesn’t come as too much of a shock to you.

On Saturday after a seven hour journey from Devon that I now call home I arrived in the great City of Liverpool to attend the 2016 Labour Party Conference

After sorting out where I was staying and with the knowledge that the Leadership result had just been announced I decided to meander down to the venue, to, as the saying goes,’sus out the lie of the land’

Did I find what I expected following the shenanigans that have been going on for the past few months?

Frankly no I didn’t.

But before I go on let’s step back to earlier this year when the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party decided to take combined action and throw the gauntlet down in a challenge against and attempt to force Jeremy Corbyn to resign as Leader of the Labour Party

It is now a matter of record how phase one was planned and put into effect with Shadow Ministers who he had appointed resigning individually on the hour every hour and apparently all doing so “with a heavy heart”

It soon became clear that they had underestimated the resolve of Jeremy Corbyn who it turns out is made of sterner stuff and refused to budge, even when urged to do so by that bastion of political integrity David Cameron

What also became clear was that the PLP hadn’t planned for him not resigning and found themselves wallowing in a pit of indecision about what to do next.

Eventually they came around to the idea that perhaps they should mount a challenge and after a little, some might say a very little thought they chose Owen Smith MP as their Champion and the contest was on.

It turned out as we now know that after a bruising contest the membership of the Labour Party, or at least those who voted, overwhelmingly in political terms re-elected Jeremy Corbyn MP to be the Leader.

My expectation then was to find myself entering an arena and having to run a different kind of gauntlet of animosity and contempt from those who supported the respective candidates.

It turned out that many of the Owen Smith supporters had left the arena by the time I arrived to I suppose either lick their wounds or perhaps to regroup for another challenge.

Perhaps even both

That we will have to wait and see

What I did find of course were a number of very happy but definitely not triumphalist Jeremy Corbyn supporters and especially at the South West reception in the evening where I met and talked to brilliant people some long standing party members and some “newbies”.

I have to report that in spite of what the media would have people believe not one of the members there came across as anywhere near being a ‘Raging Trotskyist Communist infiltrator determined to bring down society’

This brings me to the point of these ramblings

As always at such events there are people of note within the party who turn up and give a brief address and Saturday night as no exception there being two, the first a local MP and the other being the man himself.

I should point out that when Jeremy spoke the MP had left the room and in fact he spoke before Jeremy had arrived which was unusual and certainly not normally what happens at such events.

The MP started by congratulating Jeremy as you would expect and went on to talk about the successes in the South West.

So all is well and as one of those who resigned from the Shadow Cabinet it seemed he was getting behind the Leader

Of course where there are expectations there are it appears inevitably also disappointments.

In this instance it was when the MP said that if Jeremy Corbyn really wanted to unite the party he would concede to the proposal from the PLP to allow them (and it appears from what he, only them) to vote for and elect the members to the Shadow Cabinet.

This got me thinking about how ridiculous the situation had become which in simple summary is this,

Jeremy Corbyn became the Leader of the Labour Party in 2015 after a fair, open and democratic election under the rules that the MPs and Membership had agreed

As the Leader he appointed PLP members to Shadow Cabinet positions to represent and act on behalf of the Labour Members and the U.K. Public as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in Government

This year a majority of those appointed resigned in an attempt to force the Leader to stand down and then backed a challenger to him

Jeremy Corbyn won convincingly increasing his majority.

Those who resigned are now saying that they effectively will only support him and serve on the front bench if they themselves can vote themselves back into the Shadow Cabinet

In effect they want to come full circle back to where this all began.

So what will have changed if they get their way, same Leader same Shadow Cabinet?

It is what my old dad would have called a right ‘buggers muddle’ as they make it up as they go.

Will they support Jeremy Corbyn or not if he asks them to serve on the front bench?

Who knows but in the next few weeks we’ll find out.

I hope a number of them do because there is a great deal of talent that is voluntarily choosing not to make itself available to represent and serve the people of the U.K. which will beg the question why are they there?

That brings me to Jeremy Corbyn who by all accounts lacks a sense of humour, charisma, passion, policies and is a poor public speaker lacking confidence to which all I can say is he must have a double because the man who spoke to us wasn’t short of any of them.

Which brings me to an important and I believe crucial difference between the two speeches and may be one of the reasons he is so popular.

Looking around at others in the room it seemed to me that Jeremy Corbyn was ‘speaking to us’ whereas the MP came across just ‘talking at us’

You can probably guess who got the warmest reception.