First Labour conference under Jeremy Corbyn ‘a radical departure’

John Healey Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne Picture Dean Atkins
John Healey Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne Picture Dean Atkins
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THE first Labour Party conference under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn will be different from ‘day one and hour one’, his shadow housing minister has said.

South Yorkshire MP John Healey, who is the newly appointed shadow minister for housing in the left-wing leader’s shadow team, said people should expect a significant change from the norm at the party’s annual conference, which this year is held in Brighton.

Jeremy Corbyn takes to the stage after he was announced as the Labour Party's new leader at a special conference at the QEII Centre in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 12, 2015. See PA story POLITICS Labour. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn takes to the stage after he was announced as the Labour Party's new leader at a special conference at the QEII Centre in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 12, 2015. See PA story POLITICS Labour. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The four day event involves the launch of a review into how the party makes policy, so that it can involve the views of as many grassroots activists as possible.

Mr Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, and who served as housing minister under former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said: “The hallmark of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign was tackling the sense that the politics of recent years leaves too many people out and leaves people cold and out of touch.

“The inspiration that he offered was a much wider debate than people are used to which brought members and supporters to Labour in their thousands, What he has said, and what I expect, is that style will continue into the conference.”

He said shadow cabinet members and MPs speaking to members in Brighton have been encouraged to widen the political debate as much as possible, and unusually there is no official line or guidance on policy coming from Mr Corbyn’s office.

Mr Healey said: “This is a radical departure.

“It’s different from day one and hour one. When he arrived in Brighton he spoke to a big group of young people so you saw immediately there that’s a continuation of his campaign.

“He wants to widen the debate within Labour but reach beyond Labour and to the people who haven’t seen that they have had a part to play in politics at all.

“That was the signature of his election as leader and that will be the signature of the leadership that he gives to the party conference and beyond.”

In a meeting held by the shadow cabinet before conference opened on Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn told his team that policy ideas released in a series of reports during his election campaign, including his vision for the North of England, Northern Future, were ‘consultative’ and would change as more ideas were gained from members.

Mr Healey will lead the debate over conference on housing, and on Monday will explain how he believes 100,000 council and housing association homes could be built a year by 2020.

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn, shadow foreign secretary, Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, shadow culture minister and Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett, shadow secretary of state for communities and local government will also take a central role in guiding debateduring the event.

Jeremy Corbyn will give his key speech on Tuesday.

It was revealed on Sunday that the way Labour makes policies will be reviewed in an effort to involve the members and supporters who swept Mr Corbyn to the leadership.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said the leader wanted to hear the views of grassroots members and the supporters who paid £3 to take part in the election.

He said: “We are launching a review of how we make policy and how we can make it more inclusive.”

The review will be formally announced by shadow cabinet minister Angela Eagle at conference and will also look at the “use of technology” in the policy-making process.