Conference diary

How big has the Labour conference been this year? With the party looking to form a government next May this was the last chance for the usual retinue of lobbyists and influence peddlers to ply their trade to shadow ministers who just might be making actual decisions in a few months’ time.

Certainly the ring of steel surrounding the conference centre here in Manchester seemed smaller than in recent years and the security was noticeably less oppressive.

But how do you measure the size of a conference and whether you’re attracting the movers and shakers? Square footage of steel fencing? Numbers queuing at the Midland Hotel bar?

“Young women” says a journalist at one of the better newspapers. “That’s how you tell if you’re winning, how many young women are attending.”

Metaphor of the week: Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Mary Creagh, describing buses as a “Cinderella service”. But didn’t Cinders prefer to travel by coach and horse?


Conference hall Kremlinology. Former Countryfile presenter, Miriam O’Reilly, who successfully sued the BBC over ageism, was in action on Tuesday, chairing a session of conference.

A favourite of Harriet Harman, O’Reilly was shortlisted for the Heywood and Middleton by-election, despite having no obvious connection to the area. This led to a peasants’ revolt against and an effort to back eventual winner Liz McInnes.

But O’Reilly is nothing if not tenacious and her appearance on the platform guarantees we haven’t seen the last of her.


One of the undoubted benefits of holding political conferences in cities is the range of pubs and restaurants available.

One of the downsides is that delegates disperse to the four winds leaving many evening fringe events and the main conference hotel bars half empty – until they return in the wee small hours because its the only place left open.

Welcome competition this year came from a food and drink festival in St Peter’s Square which became a favourite of conference-goers.

And the top tipple for a party once committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament and slashing defence spending? ’13 Guns.’

Who says Labour can’t identify any cuts. Over at the New Statesman, the enterprising Harry Lambert has calculated that frontbench speeches were on average just 1,200 words long, with rumours of a word count to corral any windy shadow ministers.

Tough on boilerplate rhetoric, tough on the cause of boilerplate rhetoric? We approve.

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6 Responses to “Conference diary”

  1. Landless Peasant says:

    Glad you all enjoyed getting pissed and filling your pie-holes, don’t worry about us, we survive on out-of-date tinned food found dumped in back alleys and anything we can shoplift.

  2. Tafia says:

    Is it true (as is being reported in the national press) that the disabled were removed from the front row for the speech so that the TV would pick-up & Ed could be seen shaking hands with ‘bright young things’

  3. Revolting Peasant says:

    This conference and the following interviews have effectively finished any chance of Labour winning the next general election, no matter what the polls currently say. Forgetting to mention the deficit, not only in his speech but in follow up interviews is completely unforgivable for a leader, as is a shadow pensions minister who doesn’t even know the headline figures of her own brief or one of the most media exposed Shadow Ministers not knowing the names and portfolios of the Scottish parliament shadow cabinet after months of focus on Scotland and the powers of its parliament.

    Ed says he needs 10 years in Downing street, unless we see radical changes before the new year he isn’t going to get 10 minutes.

  4. swatantra says:

    I avoided the main Conference Hall speeches because you heard the same stale crap as usual, even missed hearing Ed’s speech. The best action was in the Fringes, particularly the Labourlist/Compass/Coop Party Tent. Lisa Nandy, Jon Crudas and new bloke from Norwich Clive Lewis gave really inspiring speeches.
    Went in to Hall on wed to hear Gareths Coop Party greetings and was there also to hear Erewash’s PPC and Jacobs speech from the floor, the highlight of Conference along with Harry Smith.

  5. Landless Peasant says:

    Personally I couldn’t give a toss about the Deficit or the Economy. To people at my sub-strata of society, i.e. the oppressed Under Class, such things are completely irrelevant, as are our Politicians. We live and survive on a day-to-day, hand-to-mouth, basis. We have been abandoned by Labour and marginalized and demonized by the Tory scum. Don’t be surprised if there are further riots. People are dying. We have no food and no money. What’s Ed doing for the likes of me? A big fat nothing.

  6. Madasafish says:

    The mansion tax is likely to hit: Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Hilary Benn.. who all own homes worth more than £2M..

    “we’re all in this together”..

    Well at least teh Shadow Cabinet are.. plus a few more..

    Those evil wicked rich Tory and the righteous rich Labour toffs are all going to pay.

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