I’ve been meaning to write a rant since I arrived in Manchester for the Labour Party conference on Sunday, but there’s just been so much on.
I was selected as a delegate for Holborn and St.Pancras earlier this summer and I can honestly say that this has been one of the best experiences of my life. It has been bloody fantastic.
It’s been stimulating – fantastic fringe meetings on a variety of topics from inequality to childcare to the economy. I had the chance to heckle Ed Balls (bring it on) and tonight I had dinner with our MP Frank Dobson. Brilliant.
My head is swimming with information and you’ll be pleased to know that this evening I managed to stay sober – despite the offer of more red wine than I could physically drink from my Camden comrades. Last night I got totally trashed but I have an early train tomorrow and know it’s not worth it.
I have to report back to my ward and to the CLP on the higlights of conference but I’m not sure I can wait that long.
For me, conference was about women. Labour women are SMART.
Forget ‘Blair’s babes’
submissive and giggling in their pastel power suits – little more than political Stepford Wives.
Today’s Labour women are the future.
I’ve never been that bothered by Yvette Cooper (probably because she’s married to Ed Balls) but when I saw her speak on Sunday I was impressed.
A strong, powerful speaker and funnily enough a lot of her key points were echoed by Ed Balls on Monday.
I also really liked Caroline Flint. She is amazingly glamorous;
I hope I look that good when I’m 51 (she barely looks 40) and her idea to encourage a mass switch in energy providers is a great one.
She was on a panel about living standards (a big theme of conference) with Mary Creagh and Maria Eagle, who were also pretty sharp about food and transport (respectively).
I challenged them on the subject of childcare – a subject which any readers of my rants know that I am passionate about – and they listened. Even Liam Byrne (who I don’t like as I believe he feeds into the toxic narrative of scroungers) listened. It is such an important issue and I believe that the penny has finally dropped and our political classes have finally begun to realise how much much the cost of childcare has a negative impact on the participation of women in the workforce.
I also brought this up at a fringe meeting with Polly Toynbee
talking about a fairer society. The main topic of conversation was the Robin Hood or transaction tax
The idea is that you raise money by taxing all financial transactions – share sales, currency deals, credit swaps – you name it.
But I don’t think a society can be fair without gender equality and where women with children can still participate in the economy. To do this we need free childcare for women on low incomes and affordable childcare for the middle classes. Like they have in France. Or Sweden. Or other half civilised cultures.
And then there was Ed’s speech.
I voted for Ed back in 2010 when I joined the party and I will freely admit that I wasn’t that convinced. I basically voted for him because he wasn’t David – I saw David speak at a local event and was totally underwhelmed.
But Ed has grown on me.
I met him a few weeks ago at a local street party (Dartmouth Park) and was impressed by how relaxed he was.
He even consented to this:
God I look like a mental.
Ed was charming, self deprecating and totally relaxed, despite being bombarded with requests for photos from all and sundry.
His speech today was great.
Gone is nervous, geeky, wonky Ed, replaced by confident, self assured, relaxed Ed.
I loved the ‘One Nation’ theme and thought it was clever of him to name check Disraeli – always good to go beyond tribalism and party loyalty. And good to challenge the Tories on competence – not their strongest area!!!
I wasn’t quite so keen on trying to paint Ed as an ordinary kid from an ordinary school – his dad Ralph Miliband was a Marxist philiosopher and all round legend. Ed – you’re on over educated middle class intellectual – what’s wrong with that? I went to stupid poncy schools and made dreadful telly for years but I still give a shit. I know you do too. We all do. You are one of the good guys and you care – that’s why I hope people vote for you.
But before you become PM you need to sort out your taste in music. We had some dreadful easy listening stuff and also some mediocre indie that took me back to the 90s (and not in a good way).
If we’re talking about ‘One Nation’, here’s a tune for you:
but if you really want to get the party started here’s a real rabble rouser:
Home tomorrow so I must get some sleep now
Night night xxxx