Welsh Labour correct Corbyn after schools gaffe

Paul Flynn MP
Image caption 'My long wait for the meek to inherit the earth may be in sight....' - Paul Flynn.

The Labour conference is over. Jeremy Corbyn told delegates to go back to their constituencies to prepare for a snap election, if not for government.

The leader has had a mixed week. The failure of the Owen Smith challenge left Mr Corbyn's leadership stronger than at the end of the summer than at the beginning. The word 'mandate' featured in many of his speeches and interviews this week.

But he and his allies lost a battle over control of the party's national executive, with the Welsh and Scottish leaders able to appoint a member each to the ruling body. The row made the front page lead in the Morning Star.


The uneasy truce since the leadership result was declared has been threatened by Mr Corbyn's comments about immigration.

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham told delegates: "This conference must fully face up to this fact: millions of lifelong Labour supporters voted to leave the EU and - let's be honest - voted for change on immigration.

"We haven't even begun to show to them that we understand why."

Mr Corbyn also revealed a shaky grasp of devolution by promising to deliver "an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England and Wales". I wonder if he checked that one out with the [Liberal Democrat] Welsh education secretary?

A Welsh Labour spokesman corrected his leader: "Education is devolved. This is an England only policy."

Many MPs disappointed by the Corbyn victory will nevertheless want to give him a chance, some for fear their local parties might de-select them.

There are signs of a deal that will see some "surprising names" return to the shadow cabinet next week. It would be a surprise if Nia Griffith, the former shadow Welsh secretary, were not among them.

This may not necessarily mean the end for her replacement's shadow cabinet career, although Paul Flynn has welcomed her decision in principle to return.


Mr Flynn is rather enjoying himself as shadow leader of the Commons and got a standing ovation for his first speech at a party conference for 35 years.

It was his first ever as a shadow cabinet member, thanks to what he called "Jeremy's jobs scheme for geriatrics". With a typically distinctive turn of phrase, the Newport West MP told delegates: "It's time to now to give unity a chance. Take all the bile and the hatred together, put it in a box, bury it deep underground, put six feet of concrete on top and then put a sign saying 'never should the last 12 months be unearthed from its dishonest grave'."

It went down well. One day later, he tweeted: "My long wait for the meek to inherit the earth may be in sight with delegates warm embrace for my conference speech."

Mr Flynn was one of those who stepped up to serve in the shadow cabinet who were praised by Mr Corbyn during his closing speech. "They are our future," he said.