I spent the whole week at the Labour Party conference in Brighton. The weather was good and the real sun shone brightly. Labour had gone into the conference in an uncertain mood but came out of it in much better spirits. Chancellor Alistair Darling set out realistic measures to deal with the global economic recession. Labour will gradually reduce the deficit and continue to give priority to the public services and jobs in contrast to the slash and burn approach of the Conservatives and “savage cuts” espoused by Nick Clegg’s Liberals. Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave an inspiring and substantial speech including a welcome new commitment to a National Care Service for the elderly.
Labour debated important issues, including the economy, jobs, health, education and the future of the Post Office. Foreign Secretary David Miliband highlighted the importance of our role in the European Union. The welcome 2 to 1 vote in Ireland for the Lisbon treaty came two days later.
As well as the official programme there are numerous fringe meetings and receptions. I attended many including events organised by Labour Friends of India , the Pakistan High Commission, Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, Labour Friends of Israel, the Arab Ambassadors, the Co-operative Party, Bombardier and Network Rail. I had discussions with many charities and Non Governmental organisations who had stalls and events around the conference including the Royal British Legion and Royal National Institute for the Blind. I am a former Voluntary Service Overseas teacher and I was pleased to be able to attend a lunchtime VSO fringe meeting. Later I went to the Holocaust Educational Trust event.
The Party Conference season has now ended and Parliament resumes on Monday. But we are only a little clearer on where the parties stand on the key issues as we begin the long election campaign which is likely to last for the next seven months.
8 October 2009