Conference Notebook

by Jon Ashworth

Ed Balls wowed conference with a barnstormer of a speech ripping apart the government’s economic credentials. With increased levels of borrowing to pay for the failure of their policy, delegates know Osborne is increasingly the weak link in this Tory government. It was all vintage stuff from Ed who is fast becoming one of our strongest conference platform performers.


While it seems the back room fixers have helped find “consensus” on the various union composites, there are minor rumblings about the scheduling of an emergency motion tabled by the TSSA. The Conference Arrangements Committee who effectively keep the conference decision making machinery ticking over present the CAC report every morning outlining the timings for day. Some delegates attempt reference back which is defeated – just. Luckily for me I don’t have to worry about CAC reference backs anymore, but this looks like one for conference aficionados to keep a beady eye on.


The conference book shop appears to be doing brisk trade with memoirs of messrs Straw and Hain flying off the shelf. While both tomes are on my reading list I’m mostly looking forward to reading ‘The Clockwinder Who Wouldn’t Say No’ the biography of the late Leicestershire MP David Taylor by Paul Flynn. I didn’t know David well but I knew he was a hugely principled politician and is who hugely missed in Leicestershire and beyond. We need more like him in politics.


There is real vibrancy and dynamism on the fringe with big idea being debated with gusto. Jon Cruddas, as you would expect is a popular draw, but my top tip is Lisa Nandy who spoke morning and passionately at the packed Labour Friends of Palestine meeting. That women has stamina, speaking at something like 20 fringe events including one on social media where she had the cheek along with Tom Watson to criticise my ‘dreary’ tweeting. I hope Labour Uncut tweeters will rush my defence….


I finished the day at the Labour party diversity ‘nite’ where I’m one of the many MPs to make a short speech. There is much dancing to hits from Black Eyed Peas mixed with bhangra drums while the general secretary throws some mean moves on the dance floor as his minders look on nervously. It’s extraordinary that its 25 years since the first four minority ethnic politicians were elected to Parliament for a generation – Diane Abbot, Bernie Grant, Paul Boateng and my parliamentary neighbour Keith Vaz. So it’s fitting that the star of the evening is Keith who conducts the whole evening’s proceedings with his typical flair and pizazz.

Jon Ashworth is Labour MP for Leicester South and an opposition whip

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2 Responses to “Conference Notebook”

  1. iain ker says:

    Ed Balls wowed conference with a barnstormer of a speech ripping apart the government’s economic credentials


    Yeah whatevs – blah blah big beast who can take the fight to the tories blah blah.

    Shame the rest of the country finds him so utterly obnoxious.

  2. swatantra says:

    Agree that Lisa Nandy is rising star, a pretty hard worker; I attended several fringes where she popped up. Compass, Unite, Coop, so we know where she is coming from. Everyone likes Lisa because,… well she is so ordinary, and its to her credit. In every Party you find ordinary unpretentious MPs who get on with doing a good job, and not behaving like prima donnas and publicity seeking mavericks. ell done Lisa.

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