Spam fritters all round for party conference season…

LABOUR has left Liverpool, the Lib-Dems had theirs first in Brighton (possibly in a phone-box, no one is sure) and the Tories are gathering for theirs in Birmingham on Sunday, mops at the ready for all the Brexit blood.

These are great occasions for the party faithful, the red-eyed political editors and the roving commentators. Marooned happily at home, the rest of us might wonder at all that effort.

The Lib-Dems made few ripples in Brighton, apart from leader Vince Cable saying he would step down when Brexit was settled. That date is possibly as distant as 1984 was to George Orwell when he sat at his writing desk. Oh, and Vince tried a bit of verbal saltiness, then muffed the line that had been released to the media.

What he’d been trying to say was that years of economic pain were being “justified by the erotic spasm of leaving the European Union” but the key phrase was hijacked by a passing splutter.

Jeremy Corbyn enjoyed his party get-together in Liverpool. Last year in Brighton, Corbyn kept Brexit off the agenda, mainly because he didn’t want to get caught talking about it. This year he could hardly do the same, what with all those people wearing “Love Corbyn: Hate Brexit” T-shirts. Perhaps underneath his smart white shirt and red tie, the man himself was wearing one that said: “Love Labour: Love Brexit.”

Corbyn’s never liked the European Union but is surrounded by supporters who do. That meant he was forced into mentioning Brexit this year. And he did shove a stiletto through Mrs Maybe’s Chequers plan, a proposition already much pierced by almost everyone.

His final speech sounded good from the snatches on the BBC news. But that’s what Corbyn does: gives good speeches to the adoring followers in the aisles. His vaguely bumbling favourite uncle act is now slicker, but the party faithful still loved him.

His main answer to everything is to hope that the Tories with argue themselves into a general election. And that this time Labour will win. The details of what would happen after that are left mostly to John McDonnell, who has a better grasp of detail.

Now it’s the turn of the Tories, led by a woman who manages to be ineffective and stubborn in the same impatient sigh.

Last week Theresa May returned from being snubbed in Salzburg by the other EU leaders and gave an impromptu statement to the nation about how Britain wouldn’t be pushed around. That creaky bit of political theatre was aimed at the party faithful booking their tickets to Birmingham.

While Mrs Maybe was treated to more rudeness than might have been expected in Salzburg, it was all her own fault. She went armed with demands she knew the EU wouldn’t accept; and she knew because they’d been telling her that for two whole years.

Mrs Maybe grabbed the poisoned chalice of leading us out of Europe (even though she was a convinced Remainer). And she is making an unholy mess of an admittedly impossible job, harried by the usual suspect Europe-haters in her own party. Quite who that sniping lot will blame when and if we finally leave the EU is anyone’s guess.

But never mind, the government has just appointed a food supplies minister to get us through Brexit. How reassuring. Spam fritters all round.

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