Labour Party Conference – Reflections

 

It’s been a busy past week – up and down to Manchester for the Labour Party conference. A fantastic atmosphere – certainly an upbeat atmosphere, I thought. The first thing I did upon getting there (well, not quite, but one of the first things) was to deliver a 2-3 minute long speech in a packed National Women’s Conference on the Paralympic games and the need to secure a long term legacy that builds upon a shift in attitudes towards disabled people that came from the games. I might have also mentioned the matter of a certain councillor who goes around calling people ‘old hags’ and giving other people broken wrists.

As for fringes – they covered issues such as health and social care (Andy Burnham’s excellent on these issues, and the NHS remains a provocative matter), the co-operative movement, welfare to work, attitudes towards welfare and benefits, housing and the Human Rights Act/justice reform.

Some of the more practical bits I did was raising awareness of the excellent work that guide dogs do by racing electric cars (managed to match quite a few MPs’ fastest racing time but didn’t match Ed Balls’ top time…); and to shake off my suit jacket (and shake some odd looks aside) – and do a spot of indoor climbing on a bus.

Here’s me, about to scale the bus;

Had a really great conversation revolving around this climbing (!) about the merits of sport in tackling mental health issues – particularly outdoors sport; and about the merits of sport/outdoors activity in terms of building young people’s personal confidence.

Speaking of building personal confidence – Ed’s speech showed buckets of this and this was reflected in the national press the day after. There were some moments of real brilliance in the speechwriting, and as an aspiring advocate myself I thought that his speech and his delivery without notes will be one that will be revisited time and time again by all kinds of speechmakers. Ed’s the right sort of leader for the party – he doesn’t seem to really rest on his laurels. I’m looking forward to seeing him, and how much he will have built in confidence and developed his vision in two years’ time for the television debates.

My favourite line was perhaps the following;

Have you ever seen a more incompetent, hopeless, out-of-touch, U-turning, pledge-breaking, make-it-up-as-you-go-along, back-of-the-envelope, miserable shower than this Prime Minister and this Government?

Hmm. I know his question was supposed to be rhetorical, but – yes. Yes, I actually have. It’s called the Barnet Council Tory administration.

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