Jeremy Corbyn and the gang choose anti-austerity rhetoric over Brexit ‘distraction’
On the opening night of Labour conference, one left-wing MP also had a radical rebranding idea.
Jeremy Corbyn would be ready to back another EU referendum if party members want one, he told the Andrew Marr Show.
But the Labour leader could have sounded more enthusiastic. "Let's see what comes out of conference. Obviously, I'm bound by the democracy of our party," he said when pressed on the subject.
According to one shadow cabinet minister, the focus on a Brexit vote is a “distraction” as the Labour conference gets under way in Liverpool. So the leader was more animated when he did his star turn at The World Transformed event and belted out his greatest hits.
"Austerity has been meted out on the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. They are the ones who paid the price of the banking crisis of 2008,” he told a rapturous crowd.
"All the time the very richest in our society have had tax breaks, giveaways and tax havens. I tell you what, they're on borrowed time. A Labour government is coming!"
Down the road, a host of shadow cabinet members were making similar noises at the Unite ‘how we end Tory austerity’ rally.
John McDonnell told the crowd that “we’re now on the cusp of the end neo-liberal dominance”.
Diane Abbott said that “we need to remember that without Jeremy’s leadership we would not be an anti-austerity party”.
And Richard Burgon got a standing ovation for a full-blooded speech in which he also stressed his anti-austerity credentials.
“I remember coming to Labour against austerity meetings before Labour was against austerity," he said. "Now I’m coming to Labour against austerity meetings while Labour is in opposition against austerity. Next time when I come back it’ll be Labour in government having killed austerity!”
When it was his turn to speak, firebrand left wing MP Chris Williamson continued down the same road. But he also floated a radical rebranding idea.
He thundered: “We are embarking upon a fourth industrial revolution. Robotics and artificial intelligence is going to transform our economy. But the question is how are we going to harness the fruits of that fourth industrial revolution?
“Let’s be 21st century Luddites!”
Williams explained that “although the Luddites got a bad press, what they were arguing for was that technology should be our servant not our master”.