Saturday, February 16, 2013

London Labour Party Biennial Conference 2013

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Today was the London Regional Conference of the Labour Party at the Old Town Hall in Stratford, E15.

I had my ward surgery beforehand and missed the opening speeches and arrived towards the end of the plenary Housing debate.

The main hall of the Town Hall was packed with delegates. Standing room only.

Activist Jeffrey Blay, 62 years a Party member received an award from Iain McNicol, the General Secretary of the Labour Party as did the former London Regional secretary, Ken Clarke.

Iain addressed Conference next. The last time he had been in this hall he had  "piped in the haggis" for the Newham Burns Night (I saw him do this in 2012. I wonder if any other political party has a bagpipe player and black belt in Karate as its GS). He reminded everyone that the Labour Party started in this town hall with the election of Kier Hardie in 1892. Sadiq Khan MP, in his first outing as Shadow Minister for London spoke next and praised the Party links with hard working people through the trade unions and slams the London Tory record on housing. London faces a catastrophic housing crisis & social cleansing.

The morning session finished with the debate on the NHS. Picture above of Maggi Ferncombe from UNISON moving the motion on defending London's NHS.  

I didn't go to any of the lunchtime fringes due to a meeting but after the end of the NHS (no pun intended) and the London economy debate, I attended the workshop on Trade Unions and Labour Party Liaison.  Chaired by Fiona Twycross with UNISON Regional Secretary and Vice Chair Labour Board Linda Perks, Labour Party Regional Secretary Alan Olive and Alan Tate from CWU.

A delegate got herself into a little bit of a pickle when she realised that there could be a double meaning to her claim that the Labour Party is always looking at Scandinavian models! In the Q&A I mentioned the successful London training events London UNISON has run for branch Labour Link officers and that you can arrange union meetings at the House of Commons with friendly Labour MPs to attract rank and file members who would never normally attend any union or political meetings. 

My second workshop was led Margaret McDonagh and John Braggins on "Winning in low turnout areas and building our winning alliance". A key point was that we should "Stop Voter ID Now" (which will upset our organiser!).  Instead of asking people to do something for us (go out and vote Labour) we should be asking them what we can do for them. Makes sense to me.

After the motion on the London Economy there were emergency motions on the plans by Tory Mayor Boris Johnson to slash the fire service in London and the threat to our education services from the so called "Free Schools". I seconded the motion against Free Schools and will post my speech later. I then had to run off to another commitment and missed the election results, the close and the singing of the Red Flag and Jerusalem.

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