Good morning. It is the first full day of the Labour conference in Brighton, and so far it is not going well. Here is the Observer splash by my colleagues Toby Helm and Michael Savage.
And here is an extract.
Keir Starmer is battling to restore authority over the Labour party after a bruising defeat at the hands of unions and the left sparked a storm of criticism over his performance as leader.
Ahead of a conference billed as the moment when Starmer would introduce himself as a future prime minister to the British people, the Labour leader on Saturday was forced to withdraw plans to limit the role of party members, and increase that of MPs, in selecting future party leaders, after the unions united in opposition to block the move …
Starmer loyalists tried to talk up the leader’s success in forcing through other reforms that would make it more difficult for hard-left activists to deselect Labour MPs. “He has locked out the hard left. This is a major achievement,” said one frontbencher.
But there was widespread dismay in all wings of the party over the way Labour had been plunged into more divisive internal arguments just at the point when it had hoped to train its guns on the Tories and present its leader as a future occupant of No 10 …
Anger at Starmer’s misjudgment over the leadership rule changes has seriously dented morale, even among shadow ministers who see themselves as scrupulously loyal. “This is a total disaster,” one member of the frontbench said.
Observer front page Photograph: Observer
Still, things can only get better, as they used to say at these events. Here are some of the other Labour conference stories around this morning.
Employers in every sector told me how much they need well-rounded young people with relevant skills and literate in technology.
And young people have told me how ambitious they are for their own futures.” Labour’s reforms would mean every child having a laptop at home. To ensure teenagers are fit for jobs, two weeks’ work experience would be compulsory. And to prepare for the real world, statutory citizenship courses would include pension planning, mortgage applications, and understanding credit ratings and employment and rental contracts.
- John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, has used an article in the Observer to say “people have been left without knowing what or who the party stands for” under Starmer.
- Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, has told the Sunday Times (paywall) that she does not believe in a magic money rules and that Labour would apply its own fiscal rules. In their write-up of the interview, Tim Shipman and Caroline Wheeler report:
A Labour government would balance day-to-day government spending, but allow itself to borrow for capital investment. Crucially, it would be committed to reducing the national debt as a proportion of national income. Going into the 2008 financial crisis it was 38 per cent of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP), rising to 60 per cent when Labour left office in 2010. By the start of the Covid crisis it was 80 per cent and now it has hit 98 per cent of GDP …
Reeves has two further rules which will give her more wriggle room: Labour would take government assets into account when examining the books, which would deter the sell-off of assets that make a return for the taxpayer, a move that has the backing of the new OBR boss Richard Hughes. (This she is keen for us to know “means it isn’t mad”).
Finally, the OBR could declare a crisis situation where all the rules are suspended for a period. Reeves argues that it is important to work such a scenario into the rules so unexpected events do not simply lead to them being torn up. “It will be up to the OBR, not to the government, to say we’re in a crisis,” she explains.
- Len McCluskey, the former Unite general secretary, has said at a conference event it is “almost impossible” for Labour to win the next election, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
Here is the main agenda for the day.
8.30am: Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, is interviewed on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday. Other guests include John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, and Christina McAnea, the Unison general secretary.
After 9am: Sir Keir Starmer is interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
9.50am: The conference opens. Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, opens a debate on the environment and the green new deal.
12.25pm: Jo Stevens, the shadow culture secretary, speaks to the conference.
Lunchtime: Jeremy Corbyn, the former party leader, is due to speak at lunchtime fringe events
2.15pm: Lucy Powell, the shadow housing secretary, opens a debate on housing and transport.
4.10pm: Jim McMahon, the shadow transport secretary, speaks to the conference.
4.20pm: Delegates begin a debate on party rule changes, including requiring leadership candidates to be nominated by 20% of MPs, not 10% as now, and changes to the way disciplinary complaints are investigated (a response to criticism of the party by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission).
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