Labour conference: An activist's speech from leader Corbyn?

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images

The thirst in the hall for him to do well was tangible.

Some members of the party have wanted to hear a speech like this for years.

And although he never really expected to be doing one of the most high profile, hardest jobs in politics, if Jeremy Corbyn was nervous, he didn't show it.

And goodness me, the audience was pleased to see him, applauding for two minutes on their feet before he even said a word.

Inside the hall his clarion calls, as he even highlighted, "strong message here", were eagerly received, even though I caught the eyes of a fair number of stony-faced MPs.

Promises to end austerity, to defend human rights, to oppose cuts to tax credits, to end "Tory gerrymandering" played well to the home crowd, and will have delighted the many, many thousands of supporters who signed up over the summer with the express reason of giving him their backing.

And by mentioning, repeatedly, his mandate and firm intention to reform the party, it is clear that he wants to change how Labour works fundamentally, abandoning control and command that came to dominate the party from the mid-nineties.

Instead he wants to spread power across the party, including to his new supporters. Inside the movement, this excites and alarms, perhaps in equal measure.

But having found himself unexpectedly their leader, was Jeremy Corbyn ready to take advantage of the chance to tell the rest of the country what he would do with power?

Conference speeches like this are one of the very few opportunities that opposition leaders have not just to display their agenda, but to connect to the wider public, whose votes they ultimately need.

Team Corbyn created the expectation that he would play to this, extol his love of British values, his belief that the majority agrees with him. He did, up to a point.

But here, there was a conflict in his speech.

It was the speech of an activist, a protestor, Jeremy Corbyn the campaigner, a list of the causes he passionately believes in, not a programme for government.

He hardly mentioned how to balance the books, there was little appeal to those outside the party.

This speech was a long way from Ed Miliband's "squeezed middle", and a million miles from the New Labour call to Middle England.

And aside from a few passages about encouraging entrepreneurs, this was a speech that could have been delivered at one of the packed-out rallies during the leadership contest itself.

With the Labour party so demoralised after its election defeat perhaps a zealous campaigner in its comfort zone is precisely what it needs.

Mr Corbyn has recruited an army of new supporters.

And he has broken the rule that politics is the art of the possible, by achieving a victory that his party's establishment thought impossible.

But after today, the anxiety of many MP s in the party who want to understand how that translates to the rest of the country remains.

More on this story