In Brighton, Labour’s so-called moderates have finally started to absorb the fact they’ve broken up with power—and don't seem to know what comes nextby Marie Le Conte / September 26, 2017 / Leave a comment
Labour conference is often at its best in Brighton: the venues are all along the seafront, escaping to the beach for a short break is always an option, and the Grand and the Hilton hotels are both homes to genuinely pleasant bars.
After spending a day running from one fringe to the other and away from their hangovers, MPs, journalists and party members can hope to meet one another in these cosy rooms with lovely views, and let the mischief begin.
The last time conference ended up there was two years ago, barely a month after Jeremy Corbyn had first been elected. There was electricity in the air in those bars then, and every corner hosted its own plot on how to make sure the left-winger’s stay at the top would be limited.
A year later, the plotters met again in grey, windy and rainy Liverpool, and the atmosphere was leaden. The moderates had failed in their coup and were embarrassed about Owen Smith’s campaign; the Corbynites had won but were aware of the hard road in front of them. In those days, Theresa May seemed like an unassailable Tory messiah.
Now, another year has since passed, Emperor May has crumbled to dust, the Labour party far exceeded expectations in an election no-one was expecting—but something still isn’t quite right.
Away from the barnstorming speeches in the main hall and gleeful preparations for government down the road at Momentum’s festival, The World Transformed, the Hilton and the Grand have lost their soul.
A lot of Corbyn-sceptic Labour MPs didn’t even bother turning up to conference, and most of those who did struggle to seem like their hearts really are into it.
Their reality is, after all, quite bleak: though some of them were pleasantly surprised not to lose their seats in May, it is unclear what their next steps should be.
Understandably unwilling to sack those who stuck by him, Corbyn didn’t go for the unifying reshuffle some were hoping for after the election, meaning that a lot of former frontbenchers with ambitions are now stuck in the wilderness for the foreseeable future.
Though the fury has subsided and the parliamentary party now seems vaguely united, a lot of Labour MPs are…