I flagged in Solidarity 563 that the agenda for Labour Connected [the on-line event, 19-22 September, replacing Labour Party conference], portrayed one-way traffic to members instead of discussion with members.
There were then late amendments to insert Member Discussions following the Policy Panels, which I concede is some further attempt at participation. However, seeing that even the Lib Dems will apparently be voting on policy at their virtual conference and Labour are not, this should be an embarrassment to Labour.
For a new brand of pseudo-conference we have been "treated" to a new slogan as well, Starmer deciding to declare "A New Leadership". Talking about unity in one breath, and trying to erase the past five years in another breath is hardly unifying. To those who did vote for Corbyn twice and have volunteered countless hours for the party, it's an arrogant and condescending attitude that lacks any political grace.
Angela Rayner's focus on care workers was welcome, but did not move to anything solid beyond paying care workers a living wage. In her speech she cited the value of her experience as a trade union rep, but did not include a call out to all care workers to join a trade union and organise themselves. Anneliese Dodds' speech was cautious, keen to show she is financially sensible and not "wasteful", playing into the idea that this is somehow a particular problem for Labour. When listening for anything remotely interesting or a hint of socialist politics, In a fairly long speech, I found only the mention of testing the budget against net zero carbon emissions.
Overall, I have noticed a tangible lack of buzz around the whole event, an event designed not to engage members has probably succeeded in that respect. In one of the most dramatic political periods of many of our lives, Labour Connected in contrast was remarkably…. dull.