Ask Me Anything

Political commentator John Rentoul to host Labour Party conference ‘Ask Me Anything’

The Independent’s chief political commentator John Rentoul will be answering your questions on the events of the Labour Party conference over recent days

Tuesday 28 September 2021 20:53 BST

Labour’s conference in Brighton closes after the leader’s speech on Wednesday lunchtime.

It has been just like conferences of old: arguments, resignations, gaffes and speeches to a cavernous hall full of people, with the wind and the rain and the waves outside.

The party leader Sir Keir Starmer seemed to fumble things at the start, being forced to retreat from his plan to bring back the electoral college for electing leaders in future, which would have given MPs and unions more say. But he got the changes that really mattered to him through, making it harder to deselect MPs.

He appeared uncertain in his big pre-conference TV interview with Andrew Marr when he was asked whether it was transphobic to say that only a woman has a cervix. And again when he was asked about Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, calling the Conservatives “scum”. But Rachel Reeves, who replaced Anneliese Dodds as shadow chancellor this year, delivered a powerful speech that succeeded in pleasing the conference hall while also committing the party to prudent management of the public finances.

And Sir Kier won all the important votes on the conference floor, including deploying the trade unions to steamroller a demand from party members for proportional representation.

All except a vote in favour of a £15-an-hour minimum wage, which the leadership didn’t try to defeat because it was supported by some of the unions that had been generally supportive.

The issue was divisive nevertheless, prompting the resignation from the shadow cabinet of Andy McDonald, who had been prevented from advocating the £15 policy by Sir Kier.

Although the Corbynites won that policy, they lost their last representative in the shadow cabinet and the conference as a whole confirmed their almost total powerlessness.

Now all the party’s leader has to do is to use his speech to set out what he intends to do with the party over which he has established clear control.

After his speech join me at 4pm for an “Ask Me Anything” to let me know what you thought of it and I will try to ask your questions about where Starmer’s first in-person conference leaves the Labour Party.

All you have to do is register to submit your question in the comments below. If you’re not already a member, click “sign up” in the comments box to leave your question. Don’t worry if you can’t see your question – they will be hidden until I join the conversation to answer them. Then join us live on this page at 4pm as I tackle as many questions as I can.

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