Sunday, 7 October 2012

A new sense of optimism, and musing on Labour Party Conference.

A while ago I wrote a blog post asking why so many of my fellow Labourites did not feel optimistic about our party, our electoral chances and the direction we were moving in. More recently, I discussed the need for Labour to show greater courage of their convictions. After this year’s Labour Party conference, both blog posts no longer seem relevant. I left conference unsure of my opinion on party conferences, but so sure of my opinion of my party, its leader and its vision; so filled with optimism that was now shared by far more people than when I wrote a blog post calling for the party to cheer up.

This was my first year attending conference, and beforehand I read the occasional conference tips blog post, as well as following the little labourlist debate over whether conference is even worth having…but mostly I was excited to go but didn’t do much to really plan or structure what I was doing to do, and I didn’t really know what to expect. So what do I think of conference, post having actually done it myself? I’m not sure. I guess the one thing I’d say is it’s kind of what you make of it. I had a really great time at conference, but when I go again I’ll be sure to plan more, to structure more; to really fill my time, try and meet more new people (however lovely it is to keep bumping into old friends), attend more training sessions (two of the highlights of conference, for me, were Young Labour’s speech writing training and a workshop on using contact creator for community organising)…or maybe I’ll just apply to be a steward and ensure I’ll be productive during conference that way. Because, yes, I did have a lot of fun, but the length of conference is a long time to kind of just be milling around for a lot of it.

That being said, there were some excellent fringes; Andy Burnham talking about the living wage was seriously inspiring, and I’m really excited to work on Young Labour’s priority campaign on youth homelessness, having attended its launch. There were a lot of really interesting stalls (although there were also some really random ones; including what was, as far as I can tell, a completely none-political jewellery stall. Also the Countryside Alliance seemed to have got confused and wandered in by mistake). And there were also a lot of really awesome people collected together in one space, and I wish I’d had more time to see more of them.

And, really, it was worth going to conference just for Ed Miliband’s speech; I’m not going to go into depth about how amazing it was…that’s been done enough, but if the only purpose of conference was to give this speech the media attention it deserved (which I don’t think is the only purpose of conference, by the way) then that would be more than enough of a reason for it. It was phenomenal (I may have been teary eyed throughout; in fact I may have been teary eyed before it even began, having welled up when I realised David Tennant was narrating the montage of Labour’s achievements shown before Ed took the stage).  

And the optimism after this amazing speech was just wonderful. A party maybe still a little dubious about its leader before was now no longer. The Fabian’s Spin Alley fringe after the speech was required to do very little spinning (the whole panel went something along the lines of: “how good was it?!” “I know; it was SO good!”. It was very enjoyable). Cheers of “Ed, Ed, Ed!” as Ed walked into the Young Labour reception illustrated a mood felt throughout conference; our leader is amazing, his vision is there and it’s a vision we believe in and want to fight for and we can win in 2015. One Nation Labour, reused and echoed throughout other conference speeches, and also just in everyone’s conversations, is a really rather brilliant framework for the Labour Party to move forward within.
“One Nation: a country where prosperity is fairly shared. One Nation: a country where we all feel part of a shared endeavour. One Nation: a country that we rebuild together” 
Reading my free copy of Total Politics on the train home from conference, I was happy to be getting back to politics. But wow, was I excited about the politics I was going back to.


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  2. The Chair of the Countryside Alliance is in fact the Labour MP for Vauxhall in London, Kate Hoey, by the way, so they probably hadn't "wandered in by mistake".

    Hoey is a really decent, democratic, traditional Labour sort who isn't afraid to speak her mind and stand up for the people. One of my top two favourite Labour MPs, along with Frank Field.