But what of the conference. to put it bluntly it hotted up. Obviously the media works to a five day week because their numbers increased, many half familiar faces sitting in hotel bars and outside tables. Take away the sea and the lamp posts entwined with dolphins and it could nearly be Ascot. The contrast is of course the conference hall proper. This is the domain of the Labour supporters and delegates. The striking feature is the openness of the debates with speakers chosen at random from the floor, most with ready made speeches that actually relate to the topic under consideration. Perhaps that's not so surprising given the nature of composite motions that roll several topics into one. Somehow it all works.
The biggest disappointment was the absence of a Trident debate. The free copy of the Morning Star handed to me by an earnest young man outside the hall headlined, "Dismay as Trident Vote is Blocked" ................ and yes it was. I thought back to an early speech on Sunday where a speaker from the platform (sorry my notes let me down on who it was) said, "Strong leaders do not fear debate". Well there was certainly fear about this one. A decent report about the conference failure can be found here: Labour Conference Trident report from Politics.co.uk.
|My view in the conference hall|
Later I walked along the sea front to a beach cafe which was hosting the East Midlands booze up. I think it was called something else but that's effectively what it was. I mingled but apart from spilling my displeasure about Lillian Greenwood to someone who turned out to be a fellow traveler of hers in the Progress group ( no wonder his smile was forced)I did not speak to many others. I did however bend the ear of Vernon Coaker who had given an "inspirational speech" and did seem to get quite animated. I spoke to him about the region. He was polite, heard me out and took my card but I expect him to be understandably focused on other things right now.
|Corbyn and Watson at the East Midlands bash|
Then, with drink fueled screams of delight and the odd woman swooning our leader and deputy arrived. Apparently this was his 35th appearance at a fringe bash but he aquitted himself well. I am amazed how well he is standing up to all this. For a man in a crumpled jacket, with an air of a polytechnic lecturer he is doing rather well. The leaders caravan departed and so did I ...... to a nearby chip shop for a late night feast. I suddenly realised that apart from the early morning bacn roll I had not eaten all day. In the chip shop I sat with Olwyn Emery of South Derbyshire CLP and our discussion was .......... well .............. interesting. To say that we both have doubts about some of the lesser mortals on the front bench team would be an understatement. I best not comment on the specifics ........ unless of course Olwyn contacts me and gives me permission to quote her. What is not in doubt is her passion to see the democratic enthusiasm that is sweeping through Labour succeeding. I found much to agree with her analysis.
Now please forgive me, I have to leave ............. my bacon roll by the sea awaits. Oh, apologies to the very nice team I met on the Vegan stand yesterday. I took one of their brochures as I was very interested in the political aspect of their movement. I know that there are some in our branch who are sympathetic.