Has the Labour party finally got its act together after a year of turbulence?
Olivia Utley, news and features editor at Reaction, says YES.
Through the lens of a moderate Blairite MP, the answer probably feels like no. The parliamentary party still has no coherent line on Brexit, and is split down the middle on huge questions like nationalisation. But if you ask a Momentum activist, the answer is a resounding yes – and that’s whose opinion counts now thanks to the so-called McDonnell amendment that gives members greater control.
Over the past year, Momentum has systematically broken down and rebuilt the machinery of British politics. Its primary purpose was never to gain parliamentary seats – it was to reform politics so that seats no longer mattered.
In Momentum’s version of politics, the people control government not via their MPs through laborious parliamentary debates, but through pressure campaigns on the street and online.
And if the row on pay caps is any indication, Momentum has well and truly got its act together.
The far left Labour activists at the conference this week know they have the party exactly where they want it.
Mark Wallace, executive editor of ConservativeHome, says NO.
Labour is understandably seeking to make hay of the disputes around the cabinet table. After all, it’s part of an opposition’s job to point to disfunction in the government. But it’s also part of Labour’s job to offer potential alternative leadership to the country – and beneath the rhetoric and chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” there's little sign of such an offer.
Corbynites are cock-a-hoop that they weren’t crushed in the General Election, but their confidence masks the reality of the result. Faced with a stuttering Tory campaign machine, a disastrous manifesto, and a Prime Minister who underperformed, Labour still fell scores of seats short.
A spring in the step is useful, but it is not a panacea. Labour still suffers from continued infighting, deep divisions on ideology and policy, and reputational issues that have alienated a large chunk of its working class core vote.
The opposition’s performance was flattered by the weakness of the Conservative campaign – and they can’t bet on that weakness persisting.