ANALYSIS: Jeremy Corbyn gives the confident performance of a politician convinced his time has come

Posted On: 
26th September 2018

After 35 years as an MP, Jeremy Corbyn is a man in a hurry.

Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowds at Labour's annual conference in Liverpool
Credit: 
PA

The Labour leader clearly believes it is now his destiny to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister. At 69, however, he realises that it is going to have to happen fairly sharpish. 

To that end, his speech to the Labour conference - indeed, the whole event - was geared towards convincing the country that the next election is just around the corner, and that his frontbench are a government in waiting.

By any reasonable measure, he succeeded in his goal.

Like a modern-day Del Boy Trotter, Corbyn said that this time next year they will be, if not millionaires, then ministers in a Labour administration.

This was a confident, hopeful speech by a politician who has grown into the role of opposition leader in the last three years.

Cast your mind back to 2015, when the same man stood on a platform in Brighton and looked for all the world like someone who could not quite believe that he was there.

The ill-fitting shirt and halting delivery - who will ever forget the ‘strong message here’ gaffe - did nothing to suggest that he would ever be Prime Minister.

Hardly anyone in his own party, let alone the country at large, believed that was a realistic possibility.

Fast-forward 36 months and everything has changed. A general election which saw him come within an ace of pulling off the most unlikely of victories can do that for a man.

This was his easily his best speech since taking on the job.

In an unassailable position in his own party, Corbyn now has designs on taking over the country on an unashamedly left-wing plan to transform the economy and society.

A mark of his confidence could be seen in what he did not say as much as what he did.

There was regret over the anti-Semitism row which dominated the summer, but no hint of an apology for his own role in it.

And on Brexit, despite the party edging ever closer to supporting a “People’s Vote”, the old eurosceptic could not bring himself to utter the word “referendum”.

Throw in his uncompromising support for the Palestine people, with no mention of the terrorist attacks suffered by the Israelis, and this was clearly the speech of a man who feels he is increasingly in tune with the mood of the country.

Indeed, he felt confident enough to declare that “Labour speaks for the new majority” as he told his troops to go back to their constituencies and prepare for government.

“We represent the new common sense of our time,” he declared. “And we are ready to deliver on it.

“We must speak for the people to whom Theresa May promised so much but has delivered so little. And we must take our message to every town, city and village. United and ready to win, ready to govern as we were in 1945, 1964 and 1997.

“So that when we meet this time next year let it be as a Labour government.”

Despite deep splits on Brexit, the aforementioned anti-Semitism row, his hardcore supporters’ obsession with internal wrangling and the fact that most of his own MPs remain unconvinced, Labour are virtually level-pegging with the Conservatives in the polls.

This was a speech of a man convinced that his time has almost come, and heaps pressure on Theresa May to use next week’s Tory conference to set out an alternative vision for a post-Brexit UK.

Over to you, Prime Minister.