Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Labour conference ............ low and high tides

Once again an early morning blog about the day before. I notice quite a few typos in yesterday's post so I must do better this morning. I am showered, booted and suited by 7 o'clock this morning, sitting in front of my laptop but staring out of the window at a very calm sea. The pink haze on the horizon and the sun gradually climbing higher in the sky add an increasing brightness to the white painted hotels and grand houses that line the sea front. It is going to be yet another warm day and I am looking forward to my stroll into the conference centre and a bacon roll and coffee from a beach kiosk.

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.

Professor Blanchflower
From that low on Sunday to a much more upbeat Monday. The stand out speech was from John McDonnell. It really was very good with the pledge that a Labour government would end austerity and balance the books with active intervention to ensure a growing economy ............. growth would pay off debts and not a squeeze on the disadvantaged. This is pure Keynesian thinking, tried and tested in the past yet I still fear that a rabid right wing media will use this as a club to attack our new socialist party. McDonnell's idea to form a panel of independent economic experts to advise Labour in opposition is really good news, especially as it will contain Professor Blanchflower who has been a dissenting voice on the Bank of England panel. Expect to hear a lot more from him in the coming years.

My view in the conference hall
Forgive for skimming through the events of the day but blogging and attendance at conference are turning out to be a difficult juggling act. I only made it back to my digs at nigh on midnight following a fun packed evening ........... well not so much fun as the fringe meeting concerning the amalgamation of East & West Midlands into an autonomous region (complete with a mayor) proved to be little more than an HS2 love in. Strong criticism from the floor came from both Mid Derbyshire CLP delegates (that's me and our youth delegate) plus a Professor from Warwick University (we are exchanging emails for further discussion). Lillian Greenwood and Richard Burdon, our shadow transport ministers were parroting the world view of the Tories, in fact, nothing they said was any different than has been said by Patrick McClaughlin (alias McScab according to Tosh McAslef). So, our brave new Labour Party transport team are the same Tory Lite pack that we've had before. Lillian Greenwood seemed to be very badly briefed and I pleaded with her and Burdon to get some independent advice before buying in to the Andrew Adonis dream. More on this in subsequent posts (when I get home and have more time).

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.

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