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Labour’s 2015 Conference: “Straight-Talking, Honest Politics”

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The Labour conference brought about new Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s first speech as leader of the party. Despite not actually discussing any policy announcements, Corbyn had many issues to talk about, ranging from the idea of renationalising the railways, to attacking the Conservative’s broken promises on child tax credits, to making solving the housing crisis his “top priority”.

In his speech he also responded to Cameron’s claim that he, Corbyn, was a threat to the security of British families by stating, “there’s no security for the 2.8 million households in Britain forced into problem debt by stagnating wages and the Tory record of the longest fall in living standards since records began”, before labelling Conservative economics as “an economy that works for the few, not the many”.

In regards to his values Corbyn reiterated his views of building a more equal society and eliminating poverty and homelessness. In what is certainly a new idea in British politics, Corbyn allowed members of his shadow Cabinet to speak freely claiming that he wants an open debate claiming, “I firmly believe leadership is listening”.

The conference also brought about a speech from Kerry McCarthy, Labour’s environment spokeswoman. In her speech McCarthy announced her support for British farmers, “I support British farming and want it to be economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and to have the very best animal welfare standards”. McCarthy also went on to sympathise with Britain’s farmers claiming that they are facing “tough” times due to things such as not being paid fairly or even on time as well as being hit by the exchange rate.

One of the most entertaining speeches of the conference came from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. While McDonnell seemed to come off well prepared, Ed Miliband’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls was often criticised for not being anti-austerity enough and for not offering a clear defined alternative to the Conservatives.

In his speech there were almost no talk of cuts but a pledge to support public services and a promise that he would be going after the likes of Google, Amazon, and Starbucks to pay their “fair share”. McDonnell was also critical of the richest 1%, suggesting they are the ones benefiting from Tory rule. He hinted that a future Labour Government would reverse any current planned changes to inheritance tax. He also claimed that Britain: “could grow its way to greater prosperity through investment in key industries and a greater role for the state in spending on research, skills, and technology”.

The biggest controversy of the conference was the debate over Trident, Britain’s nuclear defence system. Corbyn repeatedly stated his opposition to it and said that if he were Prime Minister he would not fire British nuclear weapons. This view came under heavy criticisms from some Labour members including Labour’s Defence spokeswoman Maria Eagle, who said that Corbyn’s words on the issue were “not helpful”. Hilary Benn, Shadow Foreign Secretary, said, “Mr Corbyn should abide by the party’s decision on renewing Trident”.

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Adam Barnes

Politics Editor 2015/16

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