By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
He wore a suit and tie (more Matalan than Moschino, but smart nonetheless) and was greeted with rapturous applause. “Any chance we can start?” he asked, not aware he was still clapping himself.
Corbyn had an autocue, which made his speech less rambling than previous efforts and there was no uplifting music as he walked in; so no royalties for Snow Patrol, but relief for everyone else.
Jeremy will never win over the right wing press, so began by antagonising them. I guess it doesn’t matter; there is enough blood in the water to attract the sharks, an additional bloody nose won’t make much difference. He called out various newspapers for claiming he wants humanity to be wiped out by an asteroid, his distant relative ran a workhouse and his bike was once owned by Chairman Mao, or something along those lines.
However, his overall message was there is an alternative: hope. Standing ovations met his words on three occasions. There is no doubt the activists are on board, ready to knock on doors, and hug-a-floaty. But will the grass roots members be able to reach these floating voters and kill them with kindness? You could sense middle England boarding up their windows, sharpening their bayonets and panic buying Yorkshire tea bags.
Profit before people was the rallying cry, he said: “Isn’t it curious that globalisation always means low wages for poor people, but is used to justify massive payments to top chief executives?” But he did appeal to the “self-employed” and “entrepreneurs” of which one in seven of us is, apparently. Corbyn the unlikely champion of the White Van Man perhaps?
The speech was big on hope, but small on detail. I guess that is the point of a leader’s maiden speech at the party conference. One thing that we can be sure of is this is a new caring and collaborative form of politics, and we are all invited.
Corbyn told us there shouldn’t be 100,000 children homeless, families relying on food banks and the one per cent shouldn’t hold the same wealth as the rest. Ever the activist he used his speech as an opportunity to call for Cameron to intervene in the case of Saudi pro-democracy campaigner, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who has been sentenced to crucifixion. He also continued his stance against Trident, something his party might not be as keen to support.
He promised Deputy Leader Tom Watson will embrace the party’s social media, which to be fair, has been around for ages. In fact Britain First are industry leaders in smearing their political message across the world wide web.
However, the three elephants in the room – the election defeat, the deficit and immigration – were left free to roam the hall, but even the weight of these issues couldn’t trample over the conference delegates’ gusto. I doubt an asteroid strike would stop them.