Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Labour Party Conference 2010: West Ham CLP delegates report

The Labour movement usually requires all delegates to write reports on the conferences they have been sent to by their unions or the Labour Party.

Ellie Robinson (right) and David Christie (middle) were the West Ham Labour Party delegates to Conference this year.  (Left is Forhad Hussain, who was there as a ex-officio visitor and is also a UNISON member).  All three of them are newly elected Newham Councillors.

This is Ellie and David's delegation report to the West Ham GC.

"We arrived in Manchester on the Friday night and stayed in apartments just over the border in Salford.

Saturday was the day of the leadership conference where they were to announce the new leader of the Labour Party.  The hall in Manchester Central was buzzing with excitement.  Gordon Brown kicked things off with an emotional speech where he celebrated what the last Government had achieved and thanked many people for supporting him and the Labour Party.  Ann Black, chair of the NEC then took the rostrum and led us through the votes.  It took several minutes to get to the result because of the AV system, and the tension and gasps from the audience mounted until in the final round David Miliband received 49.35% of the vote and we knew that Ed would be the next leader of the Labour Party.  There were cheers and Ed gave a short speech where he paid tribute to the other candidates. In the evening we attended the London Region reception where Ed spoke again.

On Sunday a London region welcome was held introducing delegates to the format of conference and Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North launched a new priority campaign in London on housing reflecting the coalition’s attack on housing benefit claimants.  We attended the young councillor network launch and then went into the hall for conference business. 

Neil Kinnock delivered a moving tribute to Michael Foot who died in the year since the last conference. Merit Awards were presented to members from Hammersmith, Hyndburn and Exeter.  In the priority ballot as West Ham delegates we voted for debates on housing, people trafficking, consumer credit and rights at work as we felt these most reflected the particular needs of people in the West Ham constituency and would not all be prioritised by the Trade Union section. We attended a fringe event on the Gaza siege in the evening and a young Labour event. Labour friends of Bangladesh held a reception which several Newham members came up to Manchester to attend and Rushanara Ali spoke passionately about the Bangladeshi community uniting and having transparent elections and decision making in Tower Hamlets. Mary Honeyball MEP for London held a reception and talked about her ongoing focus in the European parliament.  At the end of the evening there was a Newham drink in a bar net to the Manchester Wheel.

On Monday David Miliband gave a speech as Shadow Foreign Secretary for which he received a standing ovation.  Particular focus was on Burma, Kashmir and Pakistan. Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Dianne Abbott also gave speeches throughout the week that were very well received.

Particular fringe highlights of the rest of the week included the Labour friends of India event hosted by the High Commissioner, again with very good attendance from Newham.   John Gray was on the panel for a fringe on new media and blogging.  Newham Mayor Robin Wales spoke at several fringes, including one on housing where he identified Newham’s plans in that area.

On Tuesday Ed gave his speech, there was tremendous anticipation and he delivered a passionate speech which aimed to draw a line under New Labour. The theme was the ‘New Generation’ and he spoke to the country saying ‘A new generation has taken over Labour- a new generation that understands the call to change’. He called for a mass membership party again with a membership greater than 1997, and talked about winning back votes lost since 1997.  He also promised to work with the coalition when they did the right thing. 

Throughout the rest of the week there was an increasing feeling that David would not run for the shadow cabinet and he announced this on Wednesday.  There was a lot of disappointment at this and generally there were a lot of mixed feelings about Ed’s election. It was inevitable that in so close an election, the losers would feel very disappointed and people did discuss the impact of the union vote on the election and the impression of that in the media.

On the Tuesday night we met our MP Lyn for a drink in the Midland Hotel with other Newham members.

On Wednesday there was a Q and A with our new leader, Ed Miliband, and Eddie Izzard. Two members a minute had joined the Party since Ed was elected leader and a lot of this session focussed on stories from new members.

Harriet Harman, as our Deputy Leader, closed the Conference on Thursday. We came home physically tiered but mentally reenergised to fight for our Party locally and nationally.

An update on rule changes will be provided at the GC".

1 comment:

John Gray said...

forgot to say picture is in Midland Hotel Bar!