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Five things to look out for in Jeremy Corbyn's conference speech today

September 28, 2016 8:12 AM
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The Labour leader wants to convince you he can be Prime Minister

Jeremy Corbyn will take the stage of the Labour conference today with an even stronger mandate from the grassroots than last year.

He will use his moment in the UK spotlight to put his party on an election footing, telling activists to prepare for a 2017 contest.

Having won more than six out of 10 votes cast in the Labour leadership contest there is no doubt that he can win party elections. His challenge will be to convince doubters inside and outside Labour that he is a future Prime Minister.

Mr Corbyn will say: “Whatever the Prime Minister says about snap elections, there is every chance that Theresa May will cut and run for an early election. So I put our party on notice today.

“Labour is preparing for a general election in 2017, we expect all our members to support that effort, and we will be ready whenever it comes.”

Many of the MPs who quit the frontbench earlier this year voiced concerns that Mr Corbyn could not lead the party into Government.

But today Mr Corbyn will say: “The central task for the whole Labour party is to rebuild trust and support to win the next general election and form the next Government. That is the Government I am determined to lead, to win power to change Britain for the better.

“But every one of us knows that we will only get there if we accept the decision of the members, end the trench warfare and work together to take on the Tories.

“Anything else is a luxury that the millions of people who depend on Labour cannot afford.”

In the last Prime Minister’s Questions before the Commons broke up for the conference season Mr Corbyn won praise for taking Theresa May to task over the proposals for new grammar schools.

Now, he will argue: “The Tory government is taking the country backwards and failing to meet the challenges of our time.

“Labour is now setting out its alternative - with ten key pledges to rebuild and transform Britain.”

These include “full employment”; a “secure homes guarantee”; “security at work”; “action on climate change”; “public ownership and control of our services”; a “cut in inequality of income and wealth”; “action to secure an equal society”; and “peace and justice at the heart of foreign policy”.

Mr Corbyn will say: “Those pledges, the platform on which I was re-elected leader, will now form the framework for what Labour will campaign for – and what a Labour Government will do. Together they show the direction of change we are determined to take – and the outline of the programme that will take Labour into the General Election.”

He is clear that he has a mandate not just to helm the party but to set its priorities.

Mr Corbyn had no difficulty getting supporters to vote for him again. But his challenge is to win over the 172 MPs who voted against him in the no confidence motion.

To be a true Leader of the Opposition he needs the strongest frontbench team possible. Will he make a big gesture to bring them back into the fold, such as allowing MPs to elect the members of the shadow cabinet?

This is his chance for him to show that he wants Labour to remain the broadest church possible.


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