As a vocal embodiment of the current state of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn’s first conference address as leader was beyond perfection. As a speech, it was beyond mundane. It certainly contained the sort of vocabulary that one would expect to find in an impassioned Left wing sermon, but the delivery was lacking in fire and brimstone. Indeed, Mr Corbyn had seemingly borrowed his vocal stylings from a trainspotter who had just seen a particularly nice diesel locomotive pulling out of Birmingham New Street.
Delivery aside - at this point all but the most blindly loyal Corbynites have accepted that public speaking is not his forte - it was the muddled, vacuous content that really struck a sour chord. Like a poorly fashioned blancmange layered with sanctimony, delusion, and hypocrisy, Corbyn’s ‘short speech’ rambled on and on, all without saying anything new. The predictability of it all was quite staggering. There was the expected attack on the media - a tedious battle that seemingly has no end in sight - but still no explanation for his past actions that his supporters brand as ‘smears.’ There was the smug repetition of his ‘new kind of politics’ slogan (presumably now trademarked by an entrepreneurial Marxist somewhere in the depths of Hackney), yet he insisted on throwing snide, holier-than-thou, sleights at the Conservatives. There was the chest-puffing bluster of his ’30 years’ fighting for human rights and standing up to “oppressive regimes,” yet mentions of his own genuflection to the brutally abusive governments of Russia, Iran, and Venezuela were conspicuous by their absence.
Corbyn now carries himself with the tenor of a man who has finally bought into his own hype. The faux intellectualism of his speech - punctuated with a regular trailing off at the end of sentences and a knowing raised eyebrow - became unbearably grating as he droned on and on. Between Leftist platitudes and thinly veiled attempts at stoking the fires of an imagined class war, there was an unbelievable dearth of actual policy or substance. ‘Spend, spend, spend!’ is the plan, apparently. I say ‘apparently’ because there is no cohesive political message emanating from the ashes of Labour at the moment. Corbyn styles himself as a political grown-up, and expects to be treated as such. With that self-bestowed adulthood comes an undeniable condescension though: “quiet, electorate, the adults are talking.” The voters of Britain aren’t stupid (well, most of them aren’t). If he goes much longer without nailing down his policies and, more importantly, explaining just how they could be achieved, then the public will out him for what he is: a dated, socialist, fraud.
The speech, however mundane and bland, spoke to the larger problem that Labour faces. It currently resides in a hermetically sealed, bright red echo chamber of its own design. Corbynite MPs are too engrossed in virtue-signalling and mutual back-slapping to bother to ensure that the Shadow Cabinet shows some sort of policy unity, and you would be hard-pressed to find a voter who could pin down Labour’s current (unofficial) position on anything from Trident to the benefits cap. Last week’s Ipsos MORI poll would have made most sane politicians sit up and take notice that their party are failing to connect with the electorate-at-large. Labour are no longer a party of the sane though: the inmates have not only taken over the asylum, they’ve bludgeoned the warden to death, set fire to the building, and are now roaming the streets (quite possibly eyeing up another assault on Shoreditch’s Cereal Cafe). The Labour leadership are giving dissenting voters a clear message: you are wrong, and you don't understand how government works. Ironically, with Mr Corbyn at the helm, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine a post-2020 PLP with a similar lack of gubernatorial understanding.