Veteran MP Dennis Skinner made a barnstorming speech at Labour’s annual conference .

The 85-year-old, who has been MP for Bolsover since 1970, hailed a “tremendous year” for Labour, which he credited to Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Cabinet.

“We had a manifesto that, quite frankly, was the best since 1945,” he said. “I’ve lived long enough to remember reading that as a young lad taking papers round during the Second World War.

As record numbers of Labour members gather in Brighton, Mr Skinner said the party was in better shape than it was even under Tony Blair.

“There is a new zeal within the Labour movement,” he said. “It can be witnessed at this conference. The place was full on a Sunday. That never used to happen, even in the days of Tony Blair and all the rest of it.

“The party is alive and well and kicking.”

He criticised those asking how Labour will pay for its policies, saying the same question had been posed to Nye Bevan, the Minister for Health in the 1940s, when the NHS was being set up.

Mr Skinner said more borrowing was “the answer” and that Labour should “do what the private sector do: we’ll borrow the money”.

He received rapturous applause as he mentioned of Labour’s key policies, including plans to renationalise Royal Mail.

Finishing his speech, he said: “Vote Labour. I can’t wait for it. All power to your elbow.”

The left-winger, known as the Beast of Bolsover, was warmly embraced by Jeremy Corbyn as he left the stage to a standing ovation.