Greetings from the Labour Party conference in Brighton.
With a backdrop of chaos at petrol stations affecting jobs, livelihoods and getting food on to supermarket shelves in many parts of the country, Labour have been having rows about party rule changes, and whether it’s acceptable to call political opponents “scum”.
After a weekend of internal wrangling, occasionally bursting into the open, Sir Keir Starmer was relieved last night to have passed a watered-down version of the changes to how party leaders, and candidates, are selected.
Starmer’s allies – out in the conference bars last night – were celebrating what had earlier in the day been billed as an embarrassing retreat, turning into a narrow win against the party’s left.
The leadership wants to get on the front foot today, with an eye-catching policy about their plans to scrap business rates if elected, in order to signal their friendliness to business, and give flagging high streets a boost.
But the fallout from deputy leader Angela Rayner’s tirade against the Tories as “homophobic, racist scum” continues to make headlines.
Privately, some shadow cabinet colleagues are furious that the comments at a late-night event on Saturday have overshadowed their conference. One told me: “Even if it wasn’t deliberate, there is no excuse for it.”
Both Rachel Reeves and Sadiq Khan distanced themselves from her comments this morning, the shadow chancellor telling Sky’s Kay Burley: “That’s not how I talk to people”.
There are whispers from MPs about the deputy leader wanting to steal the limelight from her boss.
As well as a clash of styles, the party’s post-Brexit narrative is clearly still being worked out.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves this morning declared – when questioned about the lorry driver shortage – that the party did not support free movement of people.
Starmer had said he would still try to make the case for it, when running for the leadership last year. He also refused to rule out any tax rises, including income tax, while his shadow chancellor shot that idea down.
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