Labour Party Conference Diary
24th September 2013
I took Southern Railways to Brighton from Victoria this morning.
I tried to book online for my ticket via TrainOnline but because I had switched
my credit and debit cards I was consistently denied access and nothing on their
site gave me even a hint as to what I should do. Good bye TrainOnline.
My journey was uneventful but worryingly there was no wireless on board.
Hundreds of thousand of commuters come into town on this line every week. There
was no coffee service and no plugs at any of the tables! Dear me our train
operators are still trapped in the last century but of course I was on an
eight-coach train which unlike its 12 coach counterpart has nothing.
On arriving at the Conference Centre (a shockingly designed building), I had to
make my way through a receiving party of people showering leaflets like confetti
at me including:
Opportunity Knocks - what can Labour do to capture voters now came with a free
Yellow Pages = a daily conference account from Aslef
A Petition to stop the Chinese harvesting organs which I signed
How Can Labour regain its credibility on civil liberties sponsored by the Open
The Great British Royal Mail Sell Off swindle (damn I was thinking of buying the
The People's Operator
Then it was off to do a quick round of the hundred or so stalls where groups pay
a not inconsiderable sum for the pleasure. I stopped off at:
Battersea Power Station to see how the site was developing. We made a
promotional video for the site back in 1988!
Charities Aid Foundation - wearing my Trinity Hospice hat
University of Salford's brand new Policy Institute which launched earlier this
The speeches in the main Hall were - how can I put this kindly - not quite up
to speed. No doubt because Tuesday is Ed Miliband's day it makes some kind of
sense to have a slower morning though Caroline Flint was outstanding as were her
proposals for reigning in the power companies.
I sat with Chris Bryant MP and he told me about his new two volume book on
Parliament which is due out sometime next year. I then bumped into Andrew
Rawnsley of The Observer and we both agreed the Conference season as such was
passed its sell by date. The trouble is the Tories make more from their
conference than they take in annual membership fees. Labour should have four
regional conferences each over a weekend which would bring more people in and be
At the 1000 Club lunch, I sat with Roger Truelove and Ghlin Whelan from
Sittingbourne and we listened to short speeches by Tessa Jowell, Harriet Harman,
Douglas Alexander and Chuka Umunna. I met a number of old friends including
Lucian Hudson from the OU ( we were at Catz together) and Bill Thomas, Chair of
the School of Management Advisory Board at Cranfield. Later, Harriet dropped by
our table and I gave her researcher a note on how the Lottery could be improved.
I touched base with Clare Ward, Lawrie Quinn Peter Hain MP and Carole Stone.
Just after 2pm we went back into the conference hall to ready ourselves for Ed's
big speech. Last year he wowed us in Manchester, speaking without notes for just
under an hour which secured his tenure as our leader. Today's speech secured his
position as our next PM. Again without notes and with a host of genuinely funny
one liners he laid out his vision for the UK using the slogan "We can do better
than this". It was transformational and he received a stunning number of
standing ovations during it and a very long one at the end.
I spoke with Michael Crick, C4's politico, afterwards and he agreed it had been
a good speech. He worried that it wasn't so much Miliband that was the issue but
his own office and his shadow Secretaries of State. I said you could say that
about Cameron too.