Labour: The s-word and keeping the show afloat

John McDonnell after his conference speech Image copyright PA

It felt like John McDonnell had been waiting for a long time to say it. Up on the conference platform, at the very end of his speech, he told delegates, "you no longer have to whisper it, it's called socialism".

In fact, as other MPs reminded me after his speech, Tony Blair's controversial amended version of Clause 4, included the phrase, "The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party".

It was never an officially banned word, although no question, until Mr Corbyn's victory, talk of true socialism was not a popular subject at the conference lectern.

Mr McDonnell had a long list of plans that would tickle the bellies of activists - a minimum wage of more than £10 an hour, a repeal of the Trade Union Act, more intervention to stop corporate bad behaviour, more borrowing to invest in infrastructure.

But even before Mr McDonnell took to the stage to give his speech, another row had broken out and this time, a spat between one of Mr Corbyn's most loyal supporters, the shadow defence secretary Clive Lewis, and the leadership.

Mr Lewis was seemingly furious, and hit the wall in frustration, when a line from his speech about the party's position on the nuclear deterrent was changed at the last moment.

It is a big job for Labour to get back to being credible on the economy. It's a big job to pull this party back together after the leadership contest.

Tonight after that row between one of their own loyal supporters and Mr Corbyn's team, it seems it is also a big job just keeping the show on the road.

You can't underestimate how distracted and distressed different parts of the Labour Party are. And as this conference progresses, it's starting to show.

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