Sunday, September 30, 2007

Peter's conference report

Well, we went into Conference with the possibility of one of those old time Labour splits and came out of it with a massive degree of unity and really positive momentum.

The scene was set at the NEC meeting in the week before Conference when we agreed the text of a renewed policy making process by an overwhelming majority. Those Trade Unions and others who were worried about the proposals accepted the decision by the leadership to review developments in 2009 with one of the options being a return to the current system.

The NEC met at Sunday lunch time and confirmed that we would be recommending all composites to be referred into the policy process.

This position was overwhelmingly endorsed at Conference by CLPs AND unions and we now have a real duty to make this policy making process work.

One thing that would get us more debate is if CLPs understood that the motions submitted by the major Trade Unions will automatically be debated and they can safely vote other topics without letting their Trade Union colleagues down. Such an approach would have allowed topics like Darfur to be debated this year. I will discuss with my colleagues on the NEC what we can do about this.

The highlights of the Conference for me were, obviously, Gordon Brown's speech and his question and answer session. Its clear just how far we've come in a year.

The best bit for me is getting out and about and meeting the delegates and visitors. I find out about lots of things going on up and down the country!

I had to reply to the education debate which is always an honour. This year we persuaded the Conference Arrangements Committee to debate education as a separate issue rather than jointly with health. Even though the debate was cut short it was much more focussed than in the past and I hope we'll stick to this procedure in the future.

There were some excellent contributions and the number and confidence of the young delegates we have give me great hope for the future.

Abi, the delegate from Mithcam and Morden, summed up much of our education policy: "I know that under Labour - if I work hard - I'll get on!"

Anyway - Manchester next year and in the meantime well probably be having a Spring Conference - and I'm arguing for Birmingham as the venue.

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