When Sadiq Khan spoke at last year’s Labour conference, his speech was deemed hostile to Jeremy Corbyn. Fresh from victory in the London mayoral election, Khan managed to say ‘power’ a whole 38 times – in what was widely interpreted as a thinly-veiled attack on the Labour leader’s lack of electoral appeal.
So, what a difference a year – and a surprisingly good snap election result – makes. After weeks of rows and attempts to prevent Khan from taking to the stage this year, the Leader’s Office must have today been left wondering what the fuss was all about. The Mayor of London fell into line – using his last-minute speaking slot to play it safe with a speech that praised both Corbyn and public sector workers.
On the Labour leader, Khan sounded like a true Corbynista as he gushed over Corbyn’s talents:
‘We made huge progress in the general election and the credit for that goes to one person – the leader of our party – Jeremy Corbyn.
He mobilised our movement. He motivated our activists and reached voters we hadn’t reached before.’
This olive branch from Khan doesn’t mean peace has broken out in the Labour party. But it does tell us that Labour politicians want to put on a united front – and are going to choose their battles carefully. For Khan, one of the things he is pushing for is a soft Brexit. Expect this – not Corbyn’s leadership – to be the issue he’s willing to put his neck on the line for in future.