Posts Tagged ‘Labour friends of Pakistan’

Conference Notebook

04/10/2012, 02:30:17 AM

by Jon Ashworth

Ed Miliband knocked it out of the park with a speech that had delegates whooping with delight and assembled hacks starting to concede that Labour could be back in the game. Ed put in a similarly assured and fizzing performance at the gala dinner later that night flanked by stars from Coronation Street. But while we all have our spring in our step, no one is under any illusion that we still have a long hard journey ahead.


My nose for sniffing out conference floor controversies hasn’t let me down. As I thought, Tuesday’s CAC report was almost voted down with Unite supporting the ‘reference back.’ Smartly, conference managers have now agreed to table the emergency resolution from the TSSA and so avoiding the embarrassment of conference not agreeing to the proposed timetable for the day’s proceedings. The swift turnaround from the CAC was sensible theoretically if the report had been voted down a new one would have had to be drawn up delaying the start of conference business on the day of the leader’s speech.


Every year at conference I see old friends in the bar who I only ever catch up with at conference. It’s like an old family reunion. Last night delegates were delighted that as well as the usual mix of journalists, MPs, shadow cabinet members and so on, we were also joined by Hugh Grant. Councillors and prospective politicians queued up for photos many of which will no doubt, unbeknownst to Hugh, featureĀ  prominently on individual election leaflets next year.


Conference is alive with rumour and gossip of famous names who may or may not be seeking parliamentary selection in the near future. This week we’ve seen more of Labour’s new generation of parliamentary candidates selected in marginal constituencies. Battleground seats like Burton, Lincoln, Harlow, Hastings and Norwich to name just a handful of places that have already selected impressive campaigners fighting hard. Norwich’s Jessica Asato had the smart idea to tour conference with a bucket to raise funds to oust Chloe Smith. That woman will go far but if all candidates follow her lead conference will become even more expensive.


Labour friends of Pakistan is well attended by Labour MPs all of whom get to say a few words. Rosie Winterton the chief whip walks in and is quickly ushered up to the platform to make a key note address. Not expecting this she tells us that as chief whip she is supposed to remain silent though she’s pleased to have temporarily escaped her advisors who try to keep her under control. The advisors of course have nothing to worry about unlike their counterparts in the government chief whip’s office.

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

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