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.
Great feedback for Andy from Leeds with lots of twitter comments and this great email I thought I’d share:
I really enjoyed Andy Burnham’s presentation and questions last night. I am impressed. He came across as genuine. He has obviously thoroughly thought through his politics. He will definitely be getting my first preference. If only more MPs were like him. He is a breath of fresh air in a climate of career politicians. I will put a donation for his campaign in the post.
@laidbackian: Had a great night with @andyburnhammp in Leeds. He has a passion for the Labour Party unmatched by the other candidates. #andy4leader
@stephenjtowler: Andy Burnham excellent in Leeds tonight. Why would you not vote for him?
@khutchinsondean After event tonight finally getting off the fence and backing @andyburnhammp for leader; most authentic, credible and fresh thinking choice
As I’m busy with the Rothwell and Elmet Parliamentary selection I’m going to have to follow the TUC Congress on Twitter (using the #TUC09 hash tag) and the fantastic Congress Voices website. But I just thought that this video was worth sharing. It’s one of the winners of a TUC competition to create one minute videos to promote the trade union movement and I think it’s fantastic.
I’m a bit late posting this photo, because I’ve been busy out talking to Labour Party members in Elmet and Rothwell for the Parliamentary selection. On Thursday I went with my daughter Esme to join the demonstration outside Leeds Civic Hall in support of the bin workers and street cleaners who are having their pay slashed by the Tory/Lib Dem council. It was a great event and everyone was rooting for the Unite, Unison and GMB members.
On Friday I had dinner with friends who aren’t particularly political, but were disgusted and horrified when they discovered what the bin strike was actually about. They had no idea that these hard workers, who are out every day in all weathers, were facing such massive pay cuts – £5-£6K when they only earn about £18K to begin with. It totally changed their perspective on the strike from being annoyed that their bins hadn’t been entered to being furious at Tory and Lib Dem councillors who are treating the refuse workers to shamefully.