A well-attended Labour party Irish society reception saw a run on the free Guinness within 45 minutes of opening. As stocks became dangerously depleted, quick-thinking chairman, Conor McGinn, did the decent thing and sacrificed his credit card – and possibly his credit worthiness – to supply liquid reinforcements.
Andy Burnham joined the outgoing leader of the SDLP, Margaret Ritchie, and Irish education minister, Ruairi Quinn, as he reminisced about his Irish immigrant grandfather’s days working in Liverpool’s Albert dock.
Praising the BT conference centre, Burnham rued the site not being home to his beloved Everton football club. At which point a reveller in Everton kit ran up to the stage to shake Burnham’s hand, rolling up a sleeve to reveal an Everton tattoo on his arm exclaiming: “It’s not a tattoo, it’s a birthmark”.
Apparently they’re rather fond of football in Liverpool.
A fringe meeting on the olympic games saw plain old “Seb” Coe line up alongside triple jumper, Jonathan Edwards, Labour’s former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell and Simon Henig from the local government association to fly the flag for the all-round wonderfullness of next year’s games. Complete, of course, with its £9.3 billion price tag.
Spouting impeccable New Labour lingo, “Seb” said there was still “a massive amount done, a massive amount to do”.
But on a day when Ed Balls reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to budgetary rectitude, not all of his colleagues were quite so on-message.
Asked to give advice to future cities hosting the games, Tessa had this to say: “Get your budget with a great stonking contingency”.
How is Labour faring with its erstwhile corporate friends?
Many of the regional receptions are without deep-pocketed corporate sponsors to top-up delegates’ glasses with pinot grigio, except, that is, for the Yorkshire region.
They were treated to an embarrassment of riches with both Asda (headquarters in Leeds) and Yorkshire Water throwing contributions into the flat cap.
What is Yorkshire’s secret? Oh yes, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Caroline Flint, Rosie Winterton, Yvette Cooper, Hilary Benn and Mary Creagh are local MPs.
Party members visiting conference receive an “invitation” to see the leader’s speech. Excellent.
But you have to read the small print. Its to a “live screening” in one of the conference centre’s halls.
Not quite as impressive, but unfortunately there’s more.
“This invitation does not guarantee entry. Admittance to the auditorium is on a first-come, first-served basis”.
So let’s get this clear: its not an invitation to sit in the hall. Its not even an guarantee to see Ed in all his HD glory on the big screen.
So its not really an invitation at all, is it?