5 Things We Learned From Labour Party Conference This Week

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1. Jeremy Corbyn Is Getting More Radical, Not Less.

Harold Wilson once said of Tony Benn that ‘he immatures with age’. But for Jeremy Corbyn, the older he gets, the more he sounds like a Millennial radical. Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto proved popular with the public because it caught the mood of the times. This week, the Labour leader has shown that those pledges to end Tory austerity, ‘fat cat’ tax breaks and privatisations were only the start. Water companies will be nationalised and public sector chiefs will be answerable to their staff. Even the BBC and newspapers will be forced to ‘democratise’. A Palestinian state would be recognised on the first day of a Corbyn government.

John McDonnell had one of the most telling lines of the entire week when he said on Monday that “the greater the mess we inherit the more radical we have to be”. This is a pivot on the usual Tory message that throughout history the voters have turned to the Conservatives to clean up the financial mess left by Labour governments. Blair’s response to years of underfunded public services was to actually spend his first two years sticking to Tory spending limits. Corbyn’s is to say tax the rich and pump cash immediately into the economy. And on climate change, he’s making the case for more radicalism by pledging to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

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McDonnell’s plan to transfer up to 10% of shares of all companies to their workers is truly radical, and provoked the ire of business groups like the CBI. Yet it was pitched as a sensible John Lewis-style partnership rather than Marxist dogma. Indeed, Prescott’s mantra of ‘traditional values in a modern setting’ could apply to Corbynism 2.0. Instead of traditional state-run nationalisations, a Labour government would deliver co-operatives, mutuals and localised power – all very on-trend in…

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