by Rob Marchant
The two important days of conference, the first two, have now passed. We have pinched ourselves. We have pinched ourselves again. But no, that really was John McDonnell outlining a fantasy financial plan on Monday, and Jeremy Corbyn giving the Leader’s Speech on Tuesday.
Let me just say that again. Jeremy Corbyn giving the leader’s Speech. Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party.
No matter how many times we say those words, it still beggars belief. Only four months ago, it would have been inconceivable.
How long ago that now seems. What happy, carefree days were those.
For those of us who have sat and watched dozens of leader’s speeches, mostly at times when Labour was actually running the country, it seems a strange, parallel universe. You get to know when a party is at a low ebb, just as when William Hague suffered his disastrous four years at the helm of the Tories.
But this is different: Labour’s current convulsions have not resulted in a moderate leader trying to rein in restive backbenchers on the fringes of the party. They have resulted in the election of a leader who is from those fringes. And a kitchen cabinet involving Unite and members of the hard left from outside the Labour party, which is likely to be more extreme – and certainly more brutal – than the man himself.
The Tories managed to pull themselves back, although it took most of a decade. But Labour’s case is that much worse, one wonders if they can pull it off at all.