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Friday, September 26, 2008

Labour conference reflections

To my mind, this was a successful if sober Labour Conference.

There was a real sense of being part of the serious business of government, especially in these difficult financial (and increasingly economic) times. The events in markets had highlighted the problems with Conservative economic policy ie its very foundations, while in contrast Labour appeared keen to 'do what it takes' to secure stability and our banking system, in the words of the Chancellor (who received a long standing ovation after his speech).

The Prime Minister appeared increasingly confident and relaxed. His Conference speech was well-received. It projected a clear sense of purpose to my mind, providing a good foundation for the weeks and months ahead.

While the media does focus on stories about disunity, in fact this Conference showed a united Party to the world. This was not like the Tories in the late nineties, where fringe events would hum with dissent, whatever was going on in the main hall.

However, it is vitally important that Labour keeps up with unfolding financial events. We can be confident that our policy points in the right direction ('we did fix the roof while the sun was shining,' was Gordon Brown's declaration) but things will change with slowing economies. It means, as I emphasised at the beginning of the year, that we will no longer be debating how to slice an increasingly larger cake, but will be making those hard choices we have talked about for so long. Choices reveal priorities. They provide opportunities and challenges for political parties.

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