John Harris

Journalist & Author

A Labour party of the future is beginning to emerge | John Harris

As left and right squabbled in the Liverpool conference centre, at Momentum’s festival down the road a new, modernised movement was taking shape

Anyone expecting the revolution will surely have walked into Liverpool’s gleaming Convention Centre and wondered where it was. The Labour party conference might now be Jeremy Corbyn’s domain, but it was all surprisingly familiar: a great wall of men in dark suits, fringe meetings with titles like “What’s ahead for consumers in a digital future?” – and, by way of a cruel pantomime, the disoriented sons and daughters of the Blair-Brown years, still wondering how to respond to what has happened – and, on the evidence I glimpsed, not getting much further than mouthing such tired tropes as the need for “an over-arching narrative”.

In glaring contrast, the most fulfilling and enjoyable event in Liverpool was The World Transformed, the five-day “festival of politics, art and culture” put on across town by Momentum. Here, most of the sessions – spread around a church-turned-arts centre, which felt as homemade and human as the official conference was cold and alienating – were designed to allow as much participation as possible, and thereby spark the maximal level of debate. You could tell something exciting was afoot by the hubbub that extended from the tiny reception area out into the street, and beyond.

Related: Corbyn urges Labour MPs to end ‘trench warfare’ and back socialist vision for UK

The two strands embroiled in the fighting will have the least to do with what emerges from the mess

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