Scottish Daily Mail
He showed all the bluster of a bloke who’d necked a couple of stiff gins
COCKIER, dottier, high on vanity, Jeremy Corbyn yesterday gave socialism’s addicts the mainline hit they craved. They rewarded him with clenched fists, yells of triumph and (in a few cases) moist-eyed ecstasy. Massed munchkins at a Pyongyang rally.
Labour leader Corbyn, even at the start of his hour-long oration, was a more confident and relaxed performer than he had been last year. He is sometimes put forward as a model of modesty but yesterday there was a distinct tang of larky self-fancy about this man.
He may not be a drinker but yesterday he spoke with the bluster of a bloke who had just necked a couple of jolting gins. If he was on a vanity kick, it was perhaps only human. Which of us, faced with a hall filled with shrieking fans, some in T-shirts adoringly emblazoned with our name and face, could fail to succumb to at least a smidgen of conceit? Even an Archbishop of Canterbury might feel a bit sexy at such a time.
‘Comrades, unite behind your socialist leader,’ instructed the warm-up speaker, one Sheila Coleman. And the bruising majority of them duly complied.
The moment Mr Corbyn walked on stage, he was greeted by a high-clapping, mad, loopy-doop ovation which lasted a couple of minutes. They slapped their hands like sea lions demanding sprats. Given the age of many of the faithful, it was a surprise they did not pull muscles and slip discs as they leapt to their feet, arching their backs, throwing back their shoulders.
THE Corbyn of a year ago would have looked embarrassed. But yesterday he revelled in it, roasting in their juices. One of his front teeth emerged from his lips. It gleamed. This was an unlyrical speech vacuumpacked in its certitude. No quarter was given to reality. When he (briefly) mentioned Scotland, it was to announce that Labour had recently won three council seats north of the Border. The small matter of the party’s disaster in the Scottish Parliament elections went unmentioned. He said he would scrap the checks on benefits claimants to stop welfare cheats. No mention that the last Labour government introduced many of those checks.
He told the party to ‘end the trench warfare and work together to take on the Tories’. He was so full of himself here, so imperious, that it came out as an angry blurt. Will it have any effect on his MPs? There was a small bank of them in the middle of the auditorium. They remained seated even when other delegates were ovating like maniacs.
Immediately after the speech ended, what should one find outside the hall but Chuka Umunna and Stephen Kinnock giving a joint interview to live TV?
Neither is minded to be wildly helpful to the Corbyn regime.
He promised repeal of trade union laws. Ovation. He gave us a lecture in ‘municipal socialism’. Rapture. He praised the MP who is going to stand for mayor of Liverpool.
The man in question stood and clapped himself. In the section on foreign policy there was a welcome for a peace treaty in Colombia, a country of great interest to Islington Lefties but rather less pressing fascination to swing voters in Middle Britain.
The Red Flag was sung, a small choir gathering round a pumped Corbyn. The woman next to him wore a shirt saying ‘Proud to be a socialist’.
I must say, I expected more fervour in the singing but plenty of them did raise their fists to punch the air and near me an old geezer – even older than The Leader – shook his walking stick aloft. Perhaps he had been cured by a Corbyn miracle.
I write these words as the believers drift away from the convention centre and the removals men arrive. A Tannoy announcement has just said: ‘Breakdown can now commence.’ It seems a fitting verdict on what may soon happen to the Labour vote in the real world.