Labour will move Jeremy Corbyn’s speech as party leader to the final day of its conference to avoid it being “picked over” by what is perceived as an increasingly hostile media, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
The speech always takes place on the penultimate day of the annual conference in September, but a proposal has been put to the ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) calling for the address to close the event instead.
By scheduling the speech for the final day, the press and broadcast media will be less likely to track down MPs who are critical of Mr Corbyn’s leadership. It appears some Corbynistas are particularly worried these interviews could be used to create negative news packages the following morning. However, if the speech is on the final day, journalists will have left the conference and the news agenda is likely to have moved on.
A policy proposal document, which is understood to have been agreed by both the leader’s office and the central party, states: “Closing conference with the leader’s speech avoids a speech followed by a media round the following morning. The speech gets to speak for itself and isn’t picked over the next day on the breakfast programmes.”
Some Labour insiders are shocked by the proposal, which will almost certainly be passed, arguing the leader’s speech needs to be staged at a time that attracts maximum publicity. A senior party figure said “the speech will be picked over” regardless of when it is delivered, adding that the proposal had been “written a little bit wrong”.
The source added that moving the speech would see conference “finish on a high”. A spokesman for Mr Corbyn added: “The reason [for the move] is conference can be a bit flat after the leader’s speech. It’s not influenced by the media.”
The NEC, which meets this week, has also received a proposal to move powers of patronage from the leader’s office to local associations. Local associations would be allowed to nominate party activists for knighthoods and honours. Sitting MPs would not be allowed to be included on these lists.
Mr Corbyn has been visiting refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk this weekend and called on David Cameron to let in more families fleeing the Syrian regime and Islamic State. He said yesterday: “Along with other EU states, Britain needs to accept its share of refugees from the conflicts on Europe’s borders, including the horrific civil war in Syria. We have to do more. As a matter of urgency, David Cameron should act to give refuge to unaccompanied refugee children now in Europe – as we did with Jewish Kindertransport children escaping from Nazi tyranny in the 1930s.
“And the Government must provide the resources needed for those areas accepting refugees – including in housing and education – rather than dumping them in some of Britain’s poorest communities.”
He added that the crisis had been “driven first and foremost” by conflicts in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan “in which British governments have played their part”.
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