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Monday, September 22, 2008

Labour Conference day 2

Today was the first full day of conference.

The day began with policy discussions for delegates (though for me it began beforehand with an interview with Premier Christian Radio about Conference). I attended the Prosperity and Work seminar. I made the point that our National Policy Forum documents had first been drafted 2-3 years ago. Yet now the world has changed. Then, we were used to continual economic growth. Now, after the global financial crisis, things are more difficult. So I called for the Party to consider what new language, policy direction, and communication of values would be appropriate for the next election.

Most of the Conference hall activity was based around Crime and Justice and Equality (with speeches from Jack Straw, Harriet Harman, and Jackie Smith) and Prosperity and Work (with a speech from James Purnell). There was much discussion about the fate of Remploy workers (following factory closures) and a proposed amendment to the relevant policy document on the subject was in the end remitted to the National Executive Committee after agreement with its proposer (the GMB). Conference voted to approve the relevant parts of the National Policy Forum document that had been discussed today. Of note is that compared with past conferences quite a few delegates got to speak today, which was a welcome development.

At lunchtime I attended a Unite fringe meeting on how unions can help Labour win.

This evening I attended the Party's Conference Church service, managed by the Christian Socialist Movement (I'm a former Vice Chair). Gordon Brown read a lesson. The worship was led by Andy Flannagan, a Vauxhall CLP member, and Fr Timothy Radcliffe (former head of the Dominican Order) preached. Following the service, Labour's Faith Groups Vice Chair, Stephen Timms MP, and CSM hosted a faith groups reception which was well attended.

Finally, after attending the Diversity Reception, I headed back for a (for a Conference week) relatively early night.

I'm expecting a few headline attracting speeches tomorrow. We have a debate on the economy, followed by a debate on Britain in the World in the afternoon.

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