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Clive Lewis makes an impact at Labour conference

September 28, 2016 11:08 AM
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Clive Lewis makes an impact at Labour conference

Clive Lewis had hoped that his first conference speech would be memorable, and it was, but not in the way he intended.

In shining a light onto the issue of replacing Trident, which is one of the big policy divisions within Labour, he managed to upset supporters of nuclear disarmament who thought he was on their side.

But this row over whether or not to support Trident may have ultimately done the MP for Norwich South no harm.

He said in his speech that he was "clear that our party has a policy for Trident renewal", but we understand his intention had been to go further.

He wanted to make it very clear that it was time to draw a line under the debate for now. He wanted to signal to the party that it was time to park the issue for the time being and deal with other matters.

He may well have won Jeremy Corbyn around to that idea, but clearly not everyone in the leadership - which is why his speech appeared watered down at the last minute.

And even though Mr Lewis has made it clear that he has no intention of revisiting the issue this side of the next election, other senior figures like the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell are still asserting that Trident could still be debated in the not too distant future.

Although this whole incident has been rather embarrassing for Mr Lewis, it is not all bad.

His supporters see him as a pragmatic man of the left who's looking at the bigger picture and prepared to put his own deeply-held views aside, for the sake of making his party more electable.

The problem on this occasion was that he lost and was overruled and humiliated by others, who did not even give him prior warning.

Friends of Mr Lewis say he was in good spirits a few hours after his speech, once he had calmed down.

The MP for Norwich South has been noticed at this conference and may well have won more fans.

But as shadow defence secretary he still has to find a way to unite his party and particularly those at the top over this contentious issue.


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