Conference diary: Where’s Blair?

As The Daily packed the headache tablets in preparation for this year’s conference we were flicking through the conference agenda.  Maybe we’re missing something, but there is a worrying absence of our dear leader from the timetable of speeches.  Is he not giving a talk this year?  Has the Labour party moved on already, forgetting Blair even exists? Brown is speaking on Monday for people interested in the real business of government.

Meanwhile, Hull University Labour Club point out that Harriet Harman is speaking at four simultaneous fringe meetings in four different locations around Manchester.  Looks like her deputy leadership campaign may have got off to a slightly chaotic start.

12 Responses to Conference diary: Where’s Blair?

  1. Technically there is no such thing as a Leader’s speech – hence it is listed (and always has been) as “Parliamentary Report”.

  2. Yeah, you’re right. The chimp responsible for this story will duly be sent to report on Lib Dem Conference next year as a penance for making a hash of it.

    You just can’t get the staff…

  3. Andrea says:

    Is the full list of fringe meetings somewhere online?

  4. Nope, afraid not – only in the official fringe guide which they mail out with the passes etc.

  5. Andrea says:

    thanks. I suspected that they didn’t put it online (unlike the tories and the Libdems who posted on their website the full fringe guide)

  6. Benjamin says:

    I better guide to fringe meetings at the Trade Fair, sorry Labour Conference, is provided by Private Eye this issue: “Labour Conference Special” lists all the usual cosy sponsorship arrangements.

    Kraft foods is helpfully sponsoring a meeting on junk food.

    BUPA is sponsoring a meeting about private health care.

    The Mobile Operators Association and 3 mobile are sponsoring seperate meetings about mobile phones.

    The Go Ahead group will be sponsoring a meeting about train and buses, and their environmental impact. Go Ahead’s £500,000 chief executive will join the meeting.

    A meeting on the oil industry will be sponsored by, yes you’ve guessed it, the UK Petrol Indistry Association (BP, Shell, Esso etc.)

    You get the general idea… More in PE.

  7. Andrea says:

    interesting, Benjamin.

    I suppose there’ll be a “Which? Champagne Taste Test reception” too…the other parties got it. I wonder which MP will host it

  8. Yeah, to be fair that PE story was a bit silly – they were dealing with fringe meetings by the Social Market Foundation, who are quite entitled to get sponsorship from evil corporations if they wish…

    The real issue is when it’s the Party itself. Which you would, of course, have read about here first! 🙂

    Though there may well be some socialist societies with questions to answer – we may write more on this later.

    There is indeed a Which? champagne test reception, though I think you’d have to be taking an anti-sponsorship stance to a fairly extreme level to object to the Consumers’ Association! I might certainly find time to attend! 😀

  9. Benjamin says:

    fringe meetings by the Social Market Foundation,

    They were not all SMF, which PE at any rate describes as a “speed dating agency for ministers and corporate suits”. O2 is sponsoring one by IPPR (about mobile phones.) Anyway most of the meetings listed featured Labour ministers

    I don’t think these sort of corporations are necessarily evil; it’s just that if they feature so heavily, and sponsor these events, the govt is much more likely to come down on their side of the argument. Of course, that is not necessarily a bad thing in all cases, however it certainly is a bad thing in some.

    The process some would describe as a form of corruption, considering the enormous advantage these huge companies have in terms of the large anount of money and resources they can allocate just for the business of lobbying, sponsorship etc.

  10. I think that’s a bit OTT – I don’t think you can buy favours by laying on a few bottles of cheap plonk at some fringe meeting – but there will quite rightly be objections on principle to certain businesses trying to gain a gloss of legitimacy.

    It really can’t be right that ASDA Wal-Mart should even appear to be endorsed by a Labour Prime Minister given the events of this year.

    Corporate sponsorship poses questions for think-tanks too – I’m not sure how much influence they really have over the Govt, but their reports get reported by the media, and that’s often what businesses most want.

  11. Benjamin says:

    Yes, what does the Asda-Walmart tie-in say to the unions? We all know that Asda-Walmart are just itching to ignore the unions entirely, not recognise them in the work place. They can’t do that, and that’s thanks in part to the Labour Party, but but we all know the Asda-Walmart record, and its not a great one.

    It’s a very odd sponsorship deal. Mr. Blair really can’t help himself can he?

  12. I doubt that Blair personally clinched the deal, but the fact that none of his political staff stopped to think about their corporate sponsor is telling.

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