Another fiery day in Corbynism’s furnace where we are smelting and quenching, tempering a New Babylon.
This is not socialism. It is more febrile than that. The itchiness keeps spilling forth.
Yesterday’s debates were infected by a bracing disobedience as activists even chewed the leadership’s attempts to stifle dissent. Has the revolution already started to eat its tribunes?
Jeremy Corbyn himself may radiate porridgey benevolence, but the rest of his Labour cohort major in ire which was laid on thick at the conference on Tuesday
Tosh McDonald, leader of the Aslef rail union, threw his long white hair from side to side and screamed that the Tories were ‘cowards!’ (I forget why)
Things are so shouty – speakers win applause only by resorting to baleful overstatement – that it has created a vortex of dissent that may be hard to stop.
‘Conservatives are not human beings!’ claimed one Portia, from Kensington. It is hard to know where you go after that.
Tosh McDonald, leader of the Aslef rail union, threw his long white hair from side to side and screamed that the Tories were ‘cowards!’ (I forget why).
Mr McDonald’s larynx made a din like a coffee grinder as he ended his speech with a minute-long rolling-applause riff demanding more tax money for his workers.
More from Quentin Letts for the Daily Mail…
So much white noise makes it hard for anyone with a more measured message to be heard.
Conference reports on Labour’s finances and constitution normally pass on the nod. Yesterday the rank and file pounced on this rarely contested area, challenging various details.
They derailed the morning timetable and were met with glares from some party managers. The party HQ eventually quelled the dissent by mentioning the name of bwana Corbyn, but you don’t like to think what would happen if he did not exist.
In front of me were a couple of 60-something geezers, tweaking their necks and muttering about the unions and ‘the elite’ who run the party.
These two, middle-class and well read, were straight out of the Judean People’s Front in The Life of Brian. One kept flipping open his iPad to fire off tweets. Another read the Morning Star, closely, as though checking it for ants.
Passions became inflamed about semitism. The iPad bloke leapt to his feet and bawled – ululating, smashing his hands together in applause – to show support for a comrade who was criticising Israel. I doubt he was anti-Jewish, as such. He just seemed intoxicated by a seething conniption.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow business secretary, lost the hall with a glacial moanathon. In this atmosphere you had to yell to be heard
Equality was high on the agenda. One person said it was unfair (to the disabled) that delegates could try to attract the chair’s attention by waving things in the air
In such an atmosphere, only demagogues prosper. Education spokesman Angela Rayner went down well because she is a big-shouldered foghorn who had a baby at the age of 16 and could make the shipping forecast sound menacing.
Like other frontbenchers, she announced billions of pounds’ worth of spending commitments.
The audience members barely noticed. They just clocked that beefy Angela was not one of your normal, controlling suits. Brussels Commissioners would be devoured here.
Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, hurled himself into a speech of such shrieky aggression that a lick of hair slipped down his brow and his voice pinked. A doctor might have prescribed tranquilisers.
Terms such as ‘gentleman’ and ‘lady’ were criticised for being too ‘gender-specific’. The chairperson looked almost constipated by terror after that when she foolishly used the word ‘woman’.
A sister of colour was most indignant, saying ‘I’m not hearing people talk about intersectionality!’ Someone said it was unfair (to the disabled) that delegates could try to attract the chair’s attention by waving things in the air.
A few leading MPs flopped. Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow business secretary, lost the hall with a glacial moanathon. Decent John Healey, housing spokesman, did not rant enough to grip them, either.
Ripest turn of the day came from deputy leader Tom Watson, one of Westminster’s worst plotters, who said Tories were ‘tinpot Machiavellis’.
He also gave us a homily about how ‘love wins’. Ha! Mr Corbyn may himself radiate a porridgey benevolence but the rest of them major in ire.
‘Conservatives don’t have the imagination to embrace change,’ shouted Mr Watson, a man who himself, last year, took the dreary Establishment line against Brexit.
But he may have a point. Labour’s opponents would do well to note this conference’s remarkable energy. Corbyn-economics may be dotty but the raw impatience with the technocracy is gripping.