The farce that is Labour Live rumbles on. With the Jezfest set to take place this weekend, the organisers are still struggling to shift tickets to the musical bonanza – which bills The Magic Numbers and Kate Osamor among its headliners. The Times today reports that ‘sales’ are still said to be stuck at around the 3,000 mark despite the venue – White Hart Lane Rec – having a 15,000 capacity. Labour MPs are growing increasingly concerned about the whole affair and asking Jenny Formby, the general secretary, who is currently footing the estimated £1million cost of the event. She has kept tight-lipped.
But even if it is the Labour party that has to underwrite the cost of what is now expected to be a loss-making event, the damage goes beyond financial. The event takes place just under a year since Jeremy Corbyn took to the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. Back then, the images of the Labour leader speaking to thousands of revellers – all chanting ‘ohh Jeremy Corbyn’ – were enough to terrify Conservative MPs.
It’s safe to presume that – with Glastonbury on a fallow year – the Labour Live organisers were hoping for similar images this year at their festival. Certainly when this year’s event was announced, the initial reaction from Tory MPs was once again fear. There were worries that it would be seen as another sign that Labour were connecting with young voters – and the Conservatives were falling far behind. Now it is a source of fun for Tories – perhaps the best morale-booster they have in the current climate.
It may be that the organisers manage to fill the venue with enthusiastic campaigners in time, but regardless it’s clear that in the past year Corbyn-mania had dampened. That’s in part because there is no imminent election. Since the snap election, senior Labour politicians have been at pains to keep Labour on an ‘election-footing’ – the idea that there could be an election at any minute, In that way, they hoped to keep the momentum up.
That has proved more difficult than first imagined. Theresa May continues to cling on and a recent YouGov poll gave the Conservatives a seven-point lead. This is not to say that Corbyn-mania is dead or that the Tories are in the clear. Far from it. But the Labour Live festival serves as an unwanted reminder that rather than gaining momentum – Labour are stalling.