John McDonnell made his maiden speech today to Labour Party Conference which gave an insight into his future plans for the UK. Mcdonnell’s pressure on Corporations (of which he named Starbucks, Vodaphone, Amazon and Google) to pay their fair share of tax will grab the headlines, but is there more to be taken from this short 30 minute speech?
He started the speech passionately telling the story of Michael O’Sullivan, who suffered from severe mental illness and was certified as unfit to work by no less than three doctors. He was then later declared fit to work and his benefits were removed and he ultimately took his own life. The coroner concluded his death was a direct result of the decision in his case. McDonnell made promises to end this brutal treatment of disabled people, and also to the thousands of people who find themselves homeless. ‘’We make a promise to you, we will build you a house for you and your family to live’’.
He continued with strong, clear economic policies, and making very clear to the viewers ‘Those who caused the crash should be made to pay for it, not the poor’’
The speech clearly resonated with the members in the room, ending with a standing ovation from the audience. However there were still some glum faces to be found in the room. The previous speaker from the debate was Margaret Beckett MP, who recently called herself ‘’Moronic’’ for her choice to nominate Jeremy Corbyn, clapped along very slowly with the crowd. She looked out of place among the excitable crowd. Another was one of the Wolverhampton MP’s Pat McFadden. When McDonnell called for unity among the party and for those who were frosty to the new regime to return to help Labour return to government, there was little body language to show willing.
Later in the afternoon, Lord Mandelson was doing a TV interview when the media scrum saw that McDonnell was walking by. In front of the cameras they put on their best smiles and tried to hide their discomfort with each other, especially with Lord Mandelson’s recent comments encouraging patience for an overthrow of the new leader, there were unsurprisingly no words shared between the two after the cameras had gone.
Walker Darke in Brighton, for the Express and Star.