Jeremy Corbyn speech: What the Labour leader said – and what he really meant

A deconstruction of the new leader's speech at the Labour Party conference

John Rentoul
Tuesday 29 September 2015 21:30 BST
Jeremy Corbyn addresses delegates in Brighton
Jeremy Corbyn addresses delegates in Brighton (EPA)

What he said: "Thanks to Ed Miliband for the leadership he gave our party, and for the courage and dignity he showed in the face of tawdry media attacks"

What he meant: Above all, thank you for introducing the new leadership election rules because otherwise Andy Burnham would be giving this speech and you wouldn’t want that, would you?

What he said: "I am not a leader who wants to impose leadership lines all the time"

What he meant: I tried imposing my view on Trident, but Unite voted it down, so I had better pretend the new politics is all about open and listening leadership... until I can bring in new rules to give the supporters who voted for me the power over policy.

What he said: "Tory economic failure. An economy that works for the few, not for the many"

What he meant: “For the many not the few” is a phrase that Tony Blair wrote into the new Clause IV: I have not only defeated New Labour, I am going to steal its best tunes.

What he said: "Young people and older people are fizzing with ideas. Let’s give them the space for that fizz to explode into the joy we want of a better society"

What he meant: Imagine there’s no heaven, above us only sky. And non-capitalist carbonated sugary drinks.

What he said: "I say to all activists: cut out the personal attacks. And especially the misogynistic abuse online"

What he meant: This hurts me more than it hurts you.

What he said: "Labour’s policy now is to deliver the fully integrated, publicly owned railway the British people want and need"

What he meant: Tony Blair said much the same when he was on this platform in 1995. This time, comrades, the story is going to end differently.

What he said: "There’s no answer to this crisis that doesn’t start with a new council house-building programme. It can pay for itself and make the taxpayer a profit."

What he meant: Imagine there’s no money, and houses build themselves, nothing to live or die for, just homes fit for heroes for all.

What he said: "Some people have property and power, class and capital, status and clout which are denied to the many"

What he meant: I had a bet with John McDonnell that I could get class and capital into the speech. Now I want his signed copy of Das Kapital.

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