I came away from Labour Party Conference renewed and refreshed and feeling that as a party we have entered a new era. I was pleased with the election of Ed Miliband as leader (my second preference after Andy Burnham.)
Ed’s speech was excellent, I was really impressed with his passion for the party and his vigour for ideas to make life better for people, such as the living wage. I was in the hall and know that many there said they had goose bumps and others were brought to tears. It was an emotional time and whilst it was hard not to feel for David Miliband, I feel the right Miliband has been chosen and it’s time to move forward. It strikes me that David’s decision to give Ed some space is the right one.
Labour can now move forward and reach out to a new generation. Ed has the ability to listen to people, it’s an important quality to be able to get along with people and be one of them (when Ed was first elected as an MP I remember him at Labour Party Conference in the bar (I think it was The Grand in Brighton) playing the piano and leading a sing along at about one in the morning!)
I hope that this new era will be more inclusive and that the party will really listen to members and voters. Labour did some great things in its 13 years in government but the government ended up distant from people and unable to listen. If we learn from past mistakes, as I believe we will, then we can not only win the next election because people don’t want to vote Tory, but because people really want to vote Labour again.
The highlights of this year’s conference for me were a) Ed being elected b) Ed’s speech c) my three year old daughter Esme sitting in the conference hall listening to Andy Burnham’s speech as shadow health secretary and clapping enthusiastically, when I asked her what she thought Andy was talking about she said, “making people better” d) various fringes and training sessions including a fringe on the future of social care and training sessions such as community organising and beating the Lib Dems.