Sunday 27 September 2015

Labour Conference ............ Welcome to the pleasure dome

Conference started early for me. On the train from St.Pancras to Brighton I found myself sitting with a Labour MP, his wife and another relative who was very hospitable ............... I was offered champagne. I could not determine if they were celebrating Corbinistas but the "another relative" was none too happy with the membership's choice. It was the electability factor. The MP and his wife were charming and all three were definitely socialists.

The trip from Brighton railway station to registration at the Metropole brought home to me that this Xanadu is not a workers paradise; loan shops and estate agents vie for attention on the route into town, the garish frontages offering false hope to the downtrodden or domestic bliss for the well heeled.

Registration went smoothly. I was delighted to be given full CLP delegate accreditation as documents sent some weeks ago in the post had gone missing but a concerted effort by our branch chair and a timely intervention by Councilor Alison Martin, the Mid-Derbyshire Women's Officer had confirmed my status. Thank you to both.

After I had deposited the suitcase in my digs, closed my eyes for a moment to clear my head of the champagne, I set forth for the event of the evening, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy rally in the Friends Meeting Hall which is situated (for those who know Brighton) in the Lanes area of town. Sitting in the hall I realised that I'd been there before and sifting through this colander in my head that masquerades as a memory I dredged up a dim recollection of an extra-mural lecture about plate tectonics in 1969. This was exciting and cutting edge stuff in the sixties but here I was back in that very building, 46 years later to watch as succeeding speakers mapped out the fault lines that define the Labour party in 2015. The choice of speakers was well made as the CLPD started to provide a body of facts and evidence to flesh out the Corbyn factor. There was even a reference to Rip Van Winkle from one who had been away on holiday at the start of the leadership campaign, incommunicado on some island being swept away (tectonically) from the larger lump of land where Jeremy's rise was being played out. The amazement on returning to find Jeremy as the front runner summed up the tone of the other speakers.

Tosh McDonald
BelperStuff tries to report as an observer and not as a participant and, in the hall last night the dispassionate view was that Jeremy needs a back story and it was the job of the CLPD to provide one. Let's be honest, most people in the UK had never heard of Jeremy Corbyn before the leadership campaign so it is important give the new leader some substance. The range of speakers was well chosen from an academically precise history of Labour struggles from Rida Vaquas to a tub thumping onslaught of ever rising intensity by Tosh McDonald of Aslef (if you need to rouse a rabble then send for Tosh). The meeting gradually became more businesslike with Ann Black, Diana Holland giving insights into internal party wranglings over the leadership campaign and policy forums. Finally Peter Willsman gave a "briefing to delegates" and I for one felt decidedly de-briefed. My responsibilities are to reflect the views of Mid Derbyshire comrades and not to be told when I should raise my hand by Mr.Willsman. He spoke of the fight to come, the fight to protect the Corbyn revolution from forces within the party, even from his own front bench team. I do hope that does not become the theme of this conference .................. the plate tectonics of the Labour Party cruelly exposed as fault lines widen into incontinents.

On the policy front much was made of the need for a debate on Trident and the armed services. Apparently those who run the conference will try to block any resolution in that direction. Of course this issue must be debated so I will do my best to ensure that it happens. The voting on what motions are allowed starts this morning so I must not be late.

Later, walking back through the town after the meeting had finished I caught glimpses of the Wales v England match through pub windows ......... pubs full of noise and heaving with revelers shouting at the top of their voices to be heard above the din. The fish & chip shop was, in comparison, a haven of peace. Does it make me a shallow person to admit that the main pleasure of the day was Huss & chips? I could have attended the LGBT Labour celebration but I knew that such an event was not intended for the likes of me. I wonder if this was played at the disco: Welcome to the pleasuredome by Frankie goes to Hollywood

So now I leave you to prepare for a day of composites, resolutions, fraternal greetings and ....... who knows. As I look up from my computer I am surprised to see the sea through the window. I wonder how many attending the conference even know that the sea is there. In the words of Frankie ............. I am a long way from home.

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