Report from Labour Conference 2017 – Pam Page
I am going to start my report with the words I wrote immediately after Conference.
Well, what can I say, follow that Theresa May. Clear “red” water between us, following years of people feeling there was very little distinction between us & the Tories. There sure is now.
Jeremy Corbyn offers hope for all of those who are disenfranchised in our society. The feeling at Conference was that people were united behind Jeremy Corbyn’s vision & policies that could enable a better society, putting people before profit. The Conference itself felt truly participatory. Those on the platform seemed to be actively listening to what the delegates from the floor had to say.
My Conference started with the Women’s Conference. Jeremy Corbyn described it as the largest ever Women’s Conference. Dawn Butler & Emily Thornberry made impressive speeches. Other speakers were Rosie Duffield & Saina Ashraf who spoke about her refugee journey. It was also good to meet other women delegates & visitors to Conference.
Newly elected MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell Moyle opened Conference with an accomplished speech. Obviously Jeremy Corbyn received a rousing standing ovation, as did Diane Abbott. Delegates showed solidarity & gave her a standing ovation.
Standout speeches during Conference for me were Matt Wrack from the Fire Brigades Union calling on justice for Grenfell Tower. He gave an impassioned speech saying he will ensure justice is done. He called Grenfell Tower an atrocity that was avoidable. Len McCluskey’s speech was brilliant, saying we’re talking about people & humanity. The inimitable Dennis Skinner, get rid of zero hours contracts, borrow money to fund services. Angela Rayner Shadow Education Secretary gave an outstanding speech, which was very well received. She got one of the biggest standing ovations of Conference. Amongst many points she stated that Labour would bring all schools back under Local Authority control.
Guest speaker Melanie Klein spoke about the principles of care for each other & the earth. She used the words a transformed Labour Party, brilliant. She spoke about building a movement, nothing to be feared from social movement. Her speech was very well received.
Delegates played a vital role at Conference this year. I was very impressed by the calibre of delegates who spoke very knowledgeably & passionately. Although I was bemused by the antics of those wishing to speak, using various props to get themselves noticed. Such as inflatable bananas, umbrellas etc. I was particularly impressed by the young first time delegates who spoke on many issues that impacted on their lives. Such as education, housing, mental health & the care system. Also spoke about young Labour needing their own constitution.
Delegates from our CLP were impressive speakers. Claire Wadey put forward an emergency motion about the suspensions from the Labour Party, the time scale, & lack of information. The motion unfortunately was lost. Amanda Evans CLP treasurer challenged the financial report, asking challenging questions about the cost of the Compliance unit & senior management. Marginal underfunding was also questioned. Wanted to know why no host Stall if funds are not an issue. In reply told that they plan to rectify this next year. Cost of Compliance unit not separate. Will change prioritising marginal seats.
I attended the Housing, Local Government & Transport policy seminar. Andrew Gwynne Shadow Secretary of State for communities & local government spoke about social housing & the idea of place & community. Also about the need to have a holistic view on housing & devolve power. Areas that have the most need are impacted the most.
Andy McDonald spoke about urban estates & rural areas experiencing isolation. Local transport the key alongside deregulation. He also spoke about the environmental impact planning can have. Cycling & walking should be an integral part of plans. Cycling should be a mode of transport.
John Healey spoke of Labour’s manifesto being the key for housing plans. The plans in the manifesto have credibility. Labour has the best policy on housing, Labour councils should be working with developers for investment purposes, not doing deals with them. Clamp down on student & affordable housing.
In relation to renting should think about institutional landlords as in Germany, landlords who could be trusted. Have criminal records checks for landlords. Harassment from live in landlords.
Rachel Maskell MP talked about rail safety, sustainability, service & standards. Need for a national rail service, with guards back on the train. Contravention of disability discrimination act.
I feel very privileged to have been a delegate at such a historical event. It felt a very empowering & inclusive Conference, a very positive experience. It was also great to spend time with delegates from my CLP, many of whom I had never met before. Thank you for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.