27 Sep 2007

Labour Party Conference

Well I only managed to get there late Tuesday afternoon so watched the leaders speech at home on TV. It was unlike any parliamentary report, I had listened to for along time but then he has only been in office for the past three months. To me, it sounded like a party political broadcast and the launch of the general election campaign which was then echoed by Barbara Follett announcing at a fringe that it is 80% likely that there will be an Autumn election (either 25th Oct, 1st or 8th Nov). I think Gordon should announce the election right during David Cameron's speech to the Tories in Blackpool next week. As the week went on and seeing Gordon appear at Parliamentary Q and A and at fringes and social events, he was so relaxed and confident and in deed appeared to have taken ownership of the party. Perhaps taking away contemporary motions helped with trade unions being won over on this. At first I was quite concerned over this and whilst a little tipsy in Vienna said the same to our leaders. But reasons were given and the idea of issues being debated at the National Policy Forum is appearing a little more attractive - well they have to as contemporary motions are no more. But it depends of course also on who gets elected to the NPF. At least UNISON's contemporary motion got carried.
My capacity this year at Conference was as a socialist society stall holder and this is quite difficult because some how you feel out of it. Conference feels more like a convention but even a couple of delegates said that's how it felt to them this year even on the floor. It did seem quite a congratulatory pat on the back sort of atmosphere but then we are ahead in the polls and who would have thought that this time last year or in deed in May.
The LGBT Labour / Stonewall fringe had a good turnout and Ben Summerskill gave a cracking speech. Barbara Follett also was impressive and there are very positive murmurs about the discrimination law review. colleagues who were able to attend the equalities policy seminar said that the same messages were coming out from there and it might be that there has been that much criticism about the proposals that they will have to be re-written. Barbara actually commented that they are abandoning the Single Equality Act and going for equality for he 21st century! Even though I turned up so late into conference, I managed to get some networking in and attended the Absolutely Equal, UNISON and Co-operative Party socials. A few of us even defected to the UNITE social!! I know they said they would walk out on conference over the contemporary motions well they seemed to be celebrating in style. I suppose for Craig and I, the highlights of our conference was having our picture taken with Peter Hain but also chatting with Ian McCartney who has supported a lot of our LGBT International work with both UNISON and LGBT Labour.

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