Barely twenty-four hours after Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour’s leader, party general-secretary Iain McNicol – suspected by some Corbynites of attempting to rig the leadership election – took the stage to deliver his annual report to the party conference. Someone at the back of the hall shouted ‘Resign’.
It was an inauspicious start to a conference that was supposed to showcase a reunited Labour Party. On the platform in the main hall, speaker after speaker stressed the need for a united party. Veteran MP Paul Flynn said the past twelve months should be buried in a concrete tomb, never to be unearthed. Moderate MPs queued up to announce that they had no intention of leaving the party. Many used the words of the late Jo Cox – so tragically, brutally murdered in June – to sum up their theme: ‘We have more in common than that which divides us.’
Sitting in the conference hall, you could almost believe it.