Labour conference: John McDonnell lifts mood

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A classic crowd-pleasing number from the shadow chancellor John McDonnell has helped lift the mood of the Labour conference.

It began in muted fashion with the sense of a strange stand-off emerging between the leadership and the many rebel MPs.

Some have criticised the Corbyn leadership for too much motherhood and apple pie principles and too little in the way of detailed policies.

There was at least lots of policy in there: a review of the takeover code, double HMRC staff and £10 an hour real living wage, etc.

And there is plenty in there for the Labour ranks of any persuasion to rally around.

Welsh Labour delegates who are Corbyn supporters, thoroughly fed up with all the talk of infighting, were keen to come up to me in Liverpool to point out that McDonnell had responded to critics by offering up lots of policy ideas for everyone to get stuck into.

If there is going to be some unity, and it's a big if, then policy will presumably be the way it's done.

There's still huge indecision from Welsh Labour MPs on how much support they'll give to their leader.

One said to me he thought they had better fall in line so that Corbyn would have no excuses when Labour get a thumping in the next general election, while another turned the unity question round by challenging me how I would feel about having to support a boss I had been outwardly critical of.

It goes without saying that this is not a happy camp at Westminster with unity meaning different things to different people.

It is interesting to see how things are developing with the central party at Westminster out of power but with Carwyn Jones and Sadiq Kahn in power in Wales and London, with others such as Andy Burnham potentially joining them after mayoral elections next year.

So, far from Wales becoming a side-show in the drama that has become the UK party, there are plenty of people at the Liverpool conference saying that the performance of Labour in government in places like Wales is arguably more important than ever for the party in keeping its credibility.

A final word on the row over Welsh and Scottish representatives on the NEC: Carwyn Jones obviously felt things were not going to plan because his appearance at the NEC today was extremely rare.

It is not often you can say this about Labour at the moment but it appears a row has been averted with Carwyn Jones and Kezia Dugdale winning their fight to be able to nominate their own favoured representative.

A Welsh Labour source says he will believe it when he sees it because of the level of resistance he claims to have seen to the idea.

The internal mechanics of Labour are probably very tedious for people who frankly have more important things to worry about, but the point is these procedural issues have to be got right in order for the party to have any kind of effectiveness.

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