Stealth success? Unpacking the Labour Party conference
Simon Danczuk, businessman, author and former MP, breaks down the 2023 Labour Party conference.
The public doesn’t take much interest in what happens at political conferences. They might catch a news bulletin, read highlights from a leader’s speech, glimpse at a few interesting photos – that’s about it.
Basically, politicians, and their staff, have to get through these conferences without any gaffs which draw adverse attention. Anything other than that is a win.
Impressively for Labour, this is exactly what they managed to achieve.
Angela Rayner, the Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, opened the conference on Sunday promising to champion women’s rights. Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor, spoke on Tuesday and didn’t scare the financial markets, in fact, big business was generally quite impressed with her.
Then, on Wednesday, Keir Starmer spoke about the need to rebuild Britain. He literally promised to build 1.5 million new homes, including new towns – something easier said than done. He attacked the Conservatives, said how Labour would be different, and pointed out he would need two terms – that’s 10 years – instead of five, to turn things around.
Apart from a protester covering him in glitter, which enabled him to say Labour were now “the Party of power, not protest”, it was uneventful.
In the shadow of conflict
In fact, it was so uneventful that some of our national newspapers didn’t even carry it on their front pages the next day. Those that did, either went with the glitter attack or simply celebrated the fact Keir’s Labour Party wasn’t as crazy as Jeremy Corbyn’s had been – hardly a ringing endorsement.
In fairness to Labour, the devastating attacks in Israel by Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, have overshadowed their get-together in Liverpool. Ironically, this Middle East conflict helps highlight the journey Labour has been on in recent years.
It was only five years ago Labour delegates waved Palestinian flags at the end of their conference. This was under the far-left leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, someone who is now excluded to the fringe of the conference, and still refuses to condemn the actions of Hamas.
Labour now more explicitly, and rightly, support Israel in the Middle East conflict – it marks a positive change for a political party that had almost been lost. Whilst the public might not be celebrating Starmer’s speech, they will be applauding the new direction Labour is taking. For Labour, their conference was a win.
Simon Danczuk is a businessman, author and former MP who represented the constituency of Rochdale between 2010 and 2017. He has co-written two books, Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith and Scandal at Dolphin Square.