ATTENDING LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE – A FIRST TIME DELEGATE
It was with some nervousness and quiet excitement I was elected to attend the 2019 Labour Conference in Brighton. After a fairly difficult time arranging accommodation for myself my and two other delegates we boarded the train from Hull on Saturday 21st September. Arriving in a very warm and sunny Brighton five hours later we found our flat, unpacked and headed straight to the conference hall. First impression was the amount of people in and around the conference centre and the shear organisation of conference itself. It’s huge with the hall itself and three hotels hosting fringe meetings and events. Fortunately one of our delegates had been before so knew the routine of collecting voting cards and times of meetings for composite motions. Best of all our allocated seats were second row in front of the stage.
We spent time in the conference hall and listening to speakers. We attended a composite meeting with many CLPs. We left after two hours as members were still discussing points of order with some degree of ‘going nowhere’.
On Sunday we spent a full day in the conference hall listening to speakers. At lunchtime I went to a fringe meeting on Austerity chaired by Kevin McGuire of the Daily Mirror and main speaker Len McCluskey. By now I’m getting into this conference buzz. Sadly during the afternoon I managed to trip outside the conference centre and spent the evening nursing my dignity, a very bruised and swollen knee (I’m really not into this aging lark!)
Monday another full day in the conference hall and a fringe meeting on Racism in Football. Spent time visiting the exhibitions around the outside of the hall, speaking to exhibitors, getting freebies, and enough leaflets to paper my living room.
Tuesday was the most exhilarating day. The news that the suspension of parliament was illegal meant the Leaders Speech was to place in the afternoon. By the time Jeremey Corbyn came onto the stage to speak, the atmosphere in the hall was electric and being so close to the front it was amazing. After his speech I sang the Red Flag and Jerusalem with tears in my eyes. Given my age I can honestly say one of the most memorable moments of my life. It made a woman of 67 years very happy, plus my photo opportunity with Keir Starmer.
So what can I say about my visit as a first time delegate, well if any member gets the opportunity to go, even as a visitor then do try and make the time, it’s an experience, where you make and meet friends, have a chance to speak to MPs, go to meetings on a huge variety of issues and learn so much about politics, debating and yourself.