Labour conference diary – roundup

So, another year, another conference is done and dusted, and with a weekend of nursing the square root of a hangover ahead of us, here is The Daily’s favourite bits of Manchester…

Best karaoke: Sighted staying up until the early hours of the morning in the bar of the Midland Hotel on the last night were Brownite MPs Ed Balls and Ann Keen leading a gaggle of Brownite aides and recently elected NEC member Ellie Reeves in a possibly slightly tipsy sing-song. Balls distinguished himself with a fine air guitar performance, but the possible future Chancellor sadly refused requests such as Big Spender, Taxman or Money Money Money. No one dared ask for Golden Brown.

A close-run second prize for those cheeky attendees at the Labour Students party who reworked an old classic to new words. We believe it went “We are family – Ian Gibson is my MP”.

Most lonesome tonight: Not joining them was Tom Watson, most high-profile signatory of the infamous letter. He lurked in the back of the bar but remained popular with many delegates stopping to shake his hand, though others made less complimentary gestures. He stopped for a drink with fellow Millennium Group MP Kevin Brennan, who for a Government Whip seemed to be getting on with the unlikely rebel pretty well.

Stupid headline of the week comes (surprise, surprise) from the Indy:

“Cruddas launches deputy campaign with Trident attack”

We know it’s going to be a tough campaign, but we’re not aware that Jon Cruddas has his finger on the nuclear button. Perhaps we should be doubly grateful that Geoff Hoon is not standing.

CandidateWatch: Many potential candidates have been doing the rounds of as many conference events as possible, marshalled by Special Advisers whose job it is to devise a grid that will get their employer round the maximum number of delegates and influential organisations in the time available, with military precision.

Peter Hain was such a ubiquitous presence that many started to speculate that there must be more than one of him. He even stopped off at the Compass stand for a photo opp with his arms around the volunteers – presumably a “hug a lefty” strategem, though he smoothly avoided any discussion of actual politics before oiling his way to the next flesh-pressing engagement.

RetreadWatch: Conference is also a hunting ground for those former MPs who lost at the last election and are now desperately searching for somewhere safer to fight next time. Barbara Roche, formerly of Hornsey and Wood Green, spent much of conference on the coat-tails of Newcastle East MP Nick Brown, who would certainly be happy to help another Brownite (back) in to Parliament, possibly with an eye on Stockton North. Meanwhile ex-Croydon MP Geraint Davies cut a rather sad figure trying (unsuccessfully) to convince Welsh delegates that he was a “local” candidate for Swansea.  Chris Leslie is rumoured to be in the mix for John Prescott’s Hull East base, but might face a surprise obstacle in the shape of Prescott’s son.  In the papers, the Sun reported that Portillo-slayer Stephen Twigg, himself slain in turn in 2005, is leading a campaign to oust Kate Hoey from her Vauxhall seat. The story is hilariously implausible, but Twigg may well have an eye out elsewhere in Lambeth.

Nice guy of the week: Former Labour Students National Secretary and Young European Movement President Henri Murison, who refused to give up a vacant stall from his table at the Labour Students party to allow a disabled delegate to sit down.

Speech of the week: Blair’s speech was a masterclass ruined only by the muppets waving hand made “Thank you Tony” placards.  Oh, and the fact that it was vacuous bollocks.


18 Responses to Labour conference diary – roundup

  1. Bob Piper says:

    Actually, Tom wasn’t lurking in the back of the bar, he was sitting down with me and a couple of freinds…. oh, perhaps that is WHY he was lurking…?

  2. Benjamin says:

    Has anyone “fisked” the text of Blair’s speech?

    Fillet out the lies and you’re left with the jokes, which were quite good.

  3. We’ve always thought of you as a lurker, Bob! 😉

  4. Andrea says:

    A couple of months ago there was a story about Twigg being after Barking (with Hodge’s blessing and local councillors unhappy with the idea).

    Re Hoey….the chairman and the secretary of her CLP already wrote to the Indy regarding one of their story about Hoey not being sure of reselection saying she’ll be reselected. I suppose they know the situation on the ground pretty well!

    IIRC sitting MPs should have told the party by mid-September if they want to stand again. Any news about who decided not to stand?

  5. It would be very surprising if Barking was not an All Women Shortlist were Hodge to stand down. The only way a man could obviously get it was if she lost the trigger ballot and there was an open selection. Due to an oversight in the writing of the rules, there is no provision for an AWS in that cirumstance.

    The story about Hoey’s reselection was leaked to the press by her mad stalker, Chris Gale:

    I wouldn’t take the remotest bit of notice of his deranged ramblings.

    Sitting MPs should have submitted their forms, but no news of retirements seems to have leaked out, though there was a story on LabourHome a while back suggesting that a number of them hadn’t returned them with time running out.

  6. Andrea says:

    yes, good point about Barking being an AWS anyway…a woman stands, a new waman should come in

    Maybe some MPs are waiting to see if there’s a snap election, let’s say next year, or if the Parliament is going to last until the end before deciding to retire or not

  7. Andrea – A lot of MPs will send the form back saying they intend to stay on, then decide whether to actually retire or not later in the Parliament.

    Bob – I see from today’s Observer that Andrew Rawnsley describes Tom Watson as walking the streets of Manchester sad and alone!

  8. Andrea says:

    that’s actually what I meant in my previous comment (but I wasn’t very clear)

  9. And of course there are always a few who go so late on that there isn’t a full selection and the NEC shortlist – usually convenient for the leadership.

  10. Andrea says:

    Ah, yes, I can already picture Christine Shawcroft complaining on her Labour Left Briefing column when it’ll happen (again)

    I suppose the MP for Sedgefield has submitted his reselection form 😉

  11. wozza says:

    i heard from people in barbaras old office that she was in the North East trying to weasle in some time ago.

    She couldn’t stay in (political) touch with a leftish seat in North London, how she’ll do oooop north will be interesting to watch.

    Managed to lose a 20,000 majority over two elections to a (not brilliant) lib-dem challenger.

    Nothing would suprise me about Twigg, i used to like him (well, for a blairite anyway). I like Kate and hopes she stands again.


  12. Andrea says:

    wozza, why do you think Lynne Feathersone is not brilliant?

  13. wozza says:

    i think she is very good on local issues, and knows whats happening in the constituency – largely because there is a lib-dem presence on every street almost.

    but i’m yet to be persuaded of her in the HOC…….. she doesn’t seem to be a natural public speaker or spokesperson. Plus she asked the first Question that got the whole Charlie K wagon flying off the wheels at a parliamentary party meeting…………. and despite being in the job 5 minutes then went on and signed a letter getting rid of the leader on who’s coat tails she’d followed into the HOC.

    Barbara was very good at speaking to crowds and a good commons performer, but towards the end not very good at staying in touch (and reflecting) the views of her constituents.

    On balance i prefer Lynee as the votes are going the in the right places on ID cards, foundation hospitals etc – and she seems to be around alot locally – and actually listening and reflecting those concerns.

    Basically – i do like Lynne – i just don’t think she is a stellar public speaker and communicator – to my eyes anyway.


  14. Andrea says:

    thanks for the reply

    I quite like her from what I saw.
    I thought you meant she wasn’t brilliant before her election and I was a bit surprised because some LD friends considered her a good campaigner

  15. HenryG says:

    The thought of Barbara Roche as a North East MP is bizarre. I think people up here are just about ok with people who have some talent (Blair, Miliband etc) but other than that would like someone who has lived or worked in the region, if not the borough the seat’s in.

    There is still a very strong feeling about the North-South divide and unless she does something remarkable I really can’t see her doing it. Mind, stranger things have happened – Helen Goodman’s selection in Bishop Auckland caught a lot of people by surprise.

    Having lost so many votes in her previous seat, she’ll do well do convince people how she’ll be an asset in anyway shape or form. As usual in the North East, the unions will determine a fair chunk of her chances.

  16. wozza says:

    Barbara had a very diverse constituency here – but one which was definately trending liberal/left (small L liberal). She had a massive personal vote, but ceased to share the views of her constituents.

    Tuition fees are a big thing here with Middx Uni.
    Vouchers for asylum seekers not popular.
    Foundation hospitals – you name it.

    But she is on the prowl for a seat, believe that. I don’t know how she’d do as a Party “Yes” woman up there – i don’t know if she remembers how to be anything else.

    Mind you her cred was shot in london when she did a screw job on KEn on Newsnight prior to the fisrt Election.

    Maybe she is hoping her rep won’t follow her, but seriously to lose a seat with as big a majority as she had in 1992, 1997 (20,000) and 2001 (10,000) -if the unions want an independent minded person to stick up for the North in parliament…….. i don’t know, she certainly wasn’t sticking up for any of her constituents down here.


  17. wozza says:

    Its true, she is guest lecturing up there, i don’t know which seat in particular she is nursing but it is happening,

    She was shellshocked after losing this time around, but she would have to have been blind not to see it coming which was a worry. Every conversation i heard months before election day was labour voters (inc me) switching over war, tution fees, privatised NHS/EDucation.
    Authoritarianism from the government – and the libdem won by 2,000.
    BArbara had a massive personal vote, she would make an excellent constituency MP – nobody ever complained that she wasn’t on their side in a personal issue – but when she got back to westminster she left the views of all her constituents behind. I don’t believe she spoke out once, against anything – one rebellion may have saved her – just one thing for people back here to hang their hats on and say “she’s alrght, she’s one of us”……. and we got NOTHING.

    It’s a damn shame, because she was an exccellenet constituency worker (i knew the office) – and everyone there worked inctedibly hard. Except the votes in Westninster and the general anti-labour pro-liberal tide co-incided.


  18. wozza says:

    ooops, thought i’d lost the first post.



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