Labour social event suffers from lack of party atmosphere

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn addressed Yorkshire delegates at a social event during the Labour conference in Liverpool

There wasn't much of a party atmosphere when Jeremy Corbyn took to the stage at a crowded evening social event for Yorkshire's delegates at Labour's conference in Liverpool.

This was not one of those audiences that had hung on to his every word at big street rallies in Sheffield and York during his highly successful re-election campaign.

In the packed meeting room were veteran MPs, activists , party workers and members who had attended functions like this for decades and had listened to similar speeches from Blair, Brown and Miliband in the past .

These events are traditionally used as a chance for party leaders to show that they are really just ordinary blokes who can have a laugh with their most important troops.

The audience respond by laughing at the jokes and applauding enthusiastically when the odd political point is dropped in between anecdotes of amusing campaign visits to liberally mentioned local towns and villages.

After all, what is the point of telling a room full of people who have spent most of their adult lives steeped in Labour Party politics that grammar schools are divisive and inequality is a bad thing?

Except this time Jeremy Corbyn did just that.

'Jeremy doesn't do jokes'

As stony-faced Yorkshire MPs and senior party members looked on Mr Corbyn gave exactly the same sort of speech he had given to his new raw recruits on street corners across the country.

"Jeremy doesn't do jokes." one veteran MP whispered to me.

"And he seems to think he's the only one here who has been in this party for the past 30 years," a senior Yorkshire official added.

Of course, there was the odd spattering of applause as he hit topics patently close to any socialist heart but for the most part it was a fairly low-key response.

At one point as he wound up without mentioning the EU Referendum somebody shouted: "What about Brexit?"

He was out of the door without making a reply. Maybe he didn't hear the question.

As heckling went that was gentle, but even so it was the first I have ever heard in attending a couple of dozen events like this.

As for the rousing "Let's hear it for the next prime minister" which I remember sent Ed Miliband on his way with a spring in his step at four conferences in a row? Well, it did not happen.

Jeremy Corbyn has the overwhelming support of the members of what is now the biggest party in Western Europe but on the evidence of this lukewarm event he is a long way from winning round many of the people who have spent as many decades as he has working for the Labour cause.