Well, it very much depends on who you ask. Professional Corbyn critic John McTernan thought it the "worst political speech I have ever heard by some distance." Hyperbole much. A more honest and thoughtful contribution from the right of the party comes from Wes Streeting, who said, "many things to cheer in Jeremy's speech but it was the tone on debate that was most refreshing. Test will be how it played outside the Party." Yes, Wes is right.
I liked Jeremy's speech. I don't care that it was rambling in places and a touch repetitive. Give me that any day over stilted sound bites, zero passion, wonkish wonkery, and monochrome monotone delivery. He spoke the truth about austerity. The truth about the Tories. And the truth of what the Labour Party should be about. Before Jeremy, if one is being honest you had to comb the ex-leader's speech and glom the good things hidden amid the delphic passages and commitment to things counterproductive to the party's own health. Not this time.
I did enjoy Jeremy's speech, but it wasn't as outward facing as John's was. I liked it because I'm a Labour person and a socialist. I want to overcome my scepticism and reticence. I want to believe. This speech was aimed at unifying the party and the movement, which I think it largely managed to do - McTernanites notwithstanding. Labour supporters in the country too would have been cheered. Odds and sods flirting with anti-politics probably heard things they liked to hear. But this wasn't a speech designed to win over swing voters leaning toward the blues. This was a base speech, one setting out to consolidate party and movement by setting out Labour's stall.
Is that really a problem? No. The key thing a leader must do is define themselves early on. This is what Ed Miliband didn't do after his victory five years ago. During the contest he'd tacked to the (soft) left, and immediately afterward tacked (soft) right, and this was to characterise his leadership right up to the general election. It was a strategic approach, if it can be called that, Andy Burnham borrowed during this summer's contest with disastrous results.
The sort of speech given today only becomes an issue if this is the tone Labour adopts forever more. Which is not very likely to be the case. If this was the 2019 party conference and Jeremy had said all this and nothing else, then the doomsayers would be entitled to their doomsaying. But it's not. The speech may not have won over large numbers of voters in swathes of swing seats, but at this stage it doesn't really need to. There's a long time between now and next May's round of elections. Appeals to the so-called middle would be long forgotten by then, and an opportunity to strengthen our party and movement now, lost. In all, Jeremy did what he needed to do, and did so with a touch of aplomb.