Tuesday greetings to all in the 5.38 club…the size of this Labour Party conference is overwhelming ,all the fringe events in the hotels and Momentum fringe are packed out with Labour visitors and delegates and seats filled in advance.The welcomes for Len McCluskey,Dennis Skinner and John McDonnell were absolutely huge and the Progress delegates in front of me looked distraught ..they and Labour First put out a daily bulletin ,yesterday alleging right wing delegates had been denied the right to debate and oppose Brexit ( and the BBC reported this as fact with Ben Bradshaw being interviewed endlessly all day outside conference ) …some new delegates would have been confused then to enter Conference and find a passionate debate waging ..on Brexit.There were good speeches on both sides,tho two delegates waving EU flags and calling for Labour to ignore the referendum had little support.Conference overwhelmingly supported Labour policy to respect the referendum but get the best deal for jobs and fight the Tory plans to scrap workers rights .
To be fair to Keir Starmer he was one of the few platform speakers not to try and get easy applause by pointing out how wonderful Jeremy was ..unlike Sadiq Khan who pretended he had been Jeremy’s lifelong buddy.As a London delegate I was very disappointed that Sadiq ,who spoke long about opposing the various London terror attacks,failed to mention the terrible bombing in Manchester especially as other Labour Mayors are not being given platform speeches .
The socialist spirit of the Conference was restored by John McDonnell who caught the headlines and delighted delegates with the new pledge to end the ruinous PFI deals.
Unreported tho it will be the best floor speeches were those delegates who reminded Conference of the plight of Palestinians and our right to continue to criticise the Israeli regime without being accused of anti-semitism ,particularly powerful coming from Jewish comrades.
Sadly Emily Thornberry did not mention that but did please Progress by listing ( wrongly) the Venezuelan government alongside repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia.
There was an hilarious end to the day as disabled delegates supported by virtually all the conference delegates successfully referred back the NPF section on social services because it did not pledge to restore cuts .In the sort of manouevure familiar from the Blairite years the chair tried a second show of hands as if she couldn’t believe it,but eventually had to concede,to loud cheers,that delegates had defeated the platform.
Today we will be reducing the power of the PLP to block socialist candidates for future leader ( although the 10% compromise still gives them too much power ) but perhaps the big question is : how many times will Tom Watson in his Deputy Leaders (sic) speech declare his love for Jeremy?