Spring conference day two (Saturday)
Saturday of the Spring Conference started with speeches from Diane Holland on the NEC and Peter Watts, the Labour Party’s new general secretary. The conference then moved on to Hazel Blears who spoke on the Party renewal project, and partly on warming the audience up for John Prescott.
John Prescott started off with a few of the achievements of the government to date including the importance of working with the trade unions. He moved on to the 1945 Government, and then in line with Centenary theme of the conference, he spoke about the first Parliamentary Labour Party in 1906, and how the government will work to finish off last 3 pledges of that first manifesto.
As to be expected from a Prescott speech, he moved on to the Tories, with comments on Dave the Chameleon, and the Tory team of advisors from Hague to Redwood, and not forgetting the quite man Duncan-Smith.
He finished with welcome comments to those of use in local Government, stressing the importance of working to win the various council elections in 2006, all in all a goods traditional Prescott speech.
For lunch on Saturday I attended a fringe meeting run of the themes of Crime, Neighbourhoods and respect. Amongst the various speakers was one from Encams, or the Tidy Britain campaign as they used to be known. He spoke on how due to small budgets they had to look at changing their advertising campaigns to target specific groups for particular problems, with a range of examples been given on posters they had used and what success there had been.
Anthony, with Cllr Vicky Mann, Cllr Sam Musgrave and Hazel Blears
Saturday continued with a training session, followed by a policy forum on the theme of the ‘Respect Agenda’. A range of interesting points and experiences were raised from around the country. An interesting comment from the session was that in response to a question from me the Home Office are looking in to consulting on proposals to give the police / local authorities powers around been able to close a ‘property’ if it is identified as a cause of anti social behavior.
Now this measure might seem a bit heavy-handed to some but it could be an important threat to bring into line house owners who at times think that nothing can be done to stop them from participating or allowing anti social behavior in there properties / area’s.
The ‘business’ side of Saturday finished with a session on how we communicate with people, with some examples of best practice from around the country.
Spring Conference Day Three (Sunday)
Sunday morning started off a session looking at improvement for councillors and councils and themes around that. The session, which was chaired by our Local County Councillor Dave Wilcox, covered some interesting ideas, some of which could well be useful for trying out locally.
The final session of the conference started with a speech from Ann Clywd MP, who is chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and included showing a photo of the 1906 Parliamentary Labour Party, followed by one of the current 2006 group.
David Miliband followed next, with a reasonable goods speech, which covered a reasonable number of areas, included comments on the Tories and there recent policy changes, with lines on the Tory manifesto spending plan just been a printing error, as part of the process of changing Oliver Letwin, to Oliver Let’s Win.
The conference then finished off with Ian McCartney, who’s current parliamentary seat, is one of the ones that has been held continuously by Labour since the first days of the Party in 1906. His speech also included essentially a commemorative ‘party political broadcast’ paying tribute to the party’s fore fathers from 1906 to today, but also noting the achievements of the government and past Labour governments to date.
In closing Ian McCartneys speech followed similar lines to John Prescott’s, getting across the importance of party unity, whilst at the same time getting across the message that whilst there is a time for discussion, there is also a time for delivery. Delivery been something of importance to the Government and that we must not get divided, something that with some of the policy initiatives of recent week may be more difficult then would initially appear.