One of my photos

Labour conference – day two

September 29th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 2 Comments · Politics

Peter Mandelson describing his plans for a Death Star to conference

Peter Mandelson describing his plans for a Death Star to conference

A slightly late start for me.  I missed the absolute start of the day’s sessions so I missed the Scotland report and the first Welfare & Economy debate and the Economy Q&A.

I was in time for some rousing speeches from Yvette Cooper and Alistair Darling before lunch and also caught up with my school friend Bish briefly.  We said our hellos and went off to our different sections of the auditorium, with plans to meet up later.

At lunchtime I went off to a fringe meeting hosted by the New Statesman and UK Music about the state of the music industry, particularly about copyright issues and file-sharing.  Bish had already planned to go to something different and was kicking himself when I told him that Feargal Sharkey was one of the speakers.

Feargal Sharkey at the conference fringe

Feargal Sharkey at the conference fringe

It was a well-attended meeting, with people from all different parts of the music business in the audience.  And it had food.  The meeting was hosted by the editor of the New Statesman and the two speakers were Feargal Sharkey and Ben Bradshaw – who has surely based his image on Hugh Grant.

I enjoyed the debate, and was interested to hear all parties refuting the suggestions that cutting off internet connections to filesharers is planned, though I doubt that will stop it being treated as gospel.

After this I trotted back to the Brighton Centre for the main event – Mandelson’s speech.  It was well-received and seemed to perk everybody up.  I think the feeling in the party is that whether you like him or not, you are glad that he is on our side.  I almost didn’t get in because I had won a prize on the Brighton Labour Party stall: a bottle of exotic and highly-flammable-looking booze (a cranberry liqueur based on sambucca) which the strewards wouldn’t allow in the hall. Very wise of them.  I stashed it on the Brighton stall for the time being.

After the masterclass in conference speaking from Mandelson, we had the Green Futures Q&A, which featured the prime ministers of Spain and Norway talking with Gordon Brown.  They were both very warmly received by the crowd as they both come from socialist parties and were full of praise for our party and for our PM.

After that I retreived my dangerous bottle and did a tour of the exhibitions.  First of all I blagged a carrier bag from the USDAW stall to put the bottle in, and they kindly filled it with free pens and sweeties.  I also took some membership forms since all three of our kids are in jobs that are covered by USDAW and would benefit from being members.

I had a go on a Wii sports on one stall, doing some ski jumping.  Can’t remember what it was in aid of, but I got a score that was only slightly better than David Lepper’s.  I also met a fellow Sussex PPC outside and had a nice chat with the people on the Iraq exhibition, where I got another free pen.

At the British Humanist Association stall I picked up some information about their ‘no prayer’ breakfast tomorrow and discovered that Andrew from Wongablog is coming down to take photos of the event.  Now I will have to make sure I get up in time.  I do hope he doesn’t  also try to start teaching everyone the Thriller dance.

After the main conference ended I went to a fringe meeting organised by mmy union, Unite, about protecting jobs.  According to a text from Bish he was off to a different meeting.  My fringe meeting was due to have Peter Mandelson speaking, so the room was quite packed with cameras.  I don’t think you usually get at least four TV camera crews at a fringe meeting.

At the start it was announced that Mandelson couldn’t make it.  The camera crews were very good though: they did not immediately pack up and leave – but I think they sneaked off as soon as it was polite to do so.

There was some good old-fashioned Labour/union rhetoric involved in this event, which went down well and made a lot of sense.  The recession/debt was not caused by teachers, nurses, refuse collectors so why should they be the ones who have to suffer to put it right?

When the meeting ended it was time for some more old-fashioned Labour opinions at the CND meeting concerning Trident.  By the miracle of SMS I found that Bish had been at a meeting in the Ship Hotel and was heading off somewhere else, though he did take the time to call me an old leftie for going to the CND meeting.

Grodon Brown at the diversity reception

Grodon Brown at the diversity reception

Following the CND meeting I headed back to the Hilton Metropole for the party’s diversity reception, which I knew Bish was intending to go to.  I got there a bit early which was handy because the PM turned up right at the start and said a few words.

After that the free drinks and food were unveiled and there was a mad scramble.  It was all a bit claustrophobic and I decided to call it a day.

I made may way back to the exit and got there just as Bish was coming in on his way to the diversity reception. We had a few words, but will have to catch up properly tomorrow.

At some point in the day I got interviewed by a Spanish reporter, but I can’t remember exactly when.  I am finding that I can remember all the things that happened but have no idea what order they actually happened in.

Oe thing I can remember is that today was the day the Students Union from the local uni had organised a freshers pub crawl for the new intake of students, and there were hundreds of them.  They were all wearing ‘freshers pub crawl’ t-shirts of different colours.  You would pass one enormous crowd of red t-shirts and then see an equally large crowd in green t-shirts crossing the road.  Turn round the corner and there would be another crowd in purple t-shirts.

It made the streets of Brighton even more lively than usual, certainly more lively than you would expect for a Monday – the pubs were nearly as crowded as in Doncaster on a Monday night.  They were no trouble though.  Mind you, there are armed policemen at every street corner in Broghton at the moment which helps.

Lessons learned today were to choose fringe events that are listed as providing refreshments and get there early to grab some food before the event starts.   The only problem is that you are surviving on a diet of sandwiches, nibbles and sweeties from the USDAW stand.  I think that I will have to take time out to eat a proper hot meal tomorrow.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Rob Glover

    So, basically, you’re there for the freebies?

  • Skuds

    Not the refreshments! Mostly unlabelled nibbles that I won’t touch in case they turn out to involve fish. Not the wine either – even when wine is on offer I go for the water or orange juice.

    But when you know you are not going to have a meal, getting a sandwich or two makes all the difference .

    Pens is another matter. I have nearly as many pens as a medium-sized branch of Staples now, thanks to all the freebies. Also a NASUWT hole-punch thing, a thing for measuring how many steps you take, a bookmark/ruler and a whole pile of USDAW sweeties.

    In other words, just like going to most trade shows.

    Mind you, “free” is all relative. Since I paid £140 of my own money for a pass, and £9.05 a day in train fares to get there, getting a few sandwiches is a poor return.