Hazel Blear’s MP kicked off, with a speech that covered the needs for cultural and organisational change with the party, the need to stand a Labour candidate at every level, and that the party must reflect how the country is now.
She also covered in the way that ministers do bit of the history of the party, which in my view from ministers always come across a little bit patronising, particular when followed up with the message that any change must come from the grass roots up, which when decision at Labour Party conference have given a clear steer on issues, which is then ignored rings a little hollow.
In closing Hazel highlighted the need for retaining the union link, making party meetings more welcoming and socialable, along with the need for using new technology.
Jon Cruddas MP spoke next starting, off with why he standing as a candidate for the deputy leadership, and how there is a downside with the ‘virtual politics’ been promoted by some. He moved on to speak about how we need to rebuild and reconnect better the parliamentary / government part of the party with the rest of us, and that the policy debate as had been taking place during today was important.
This was the first time that I had heard Jon Cruddas speak, and as the only non-minister in the deputy leadership campaign he didn’t quite come across as polished as the various minister who had spoke during the day, which I think given the general tiredness there is with spin, is a good thing, and something which I think will help him connect better than many of the other candidates current standing for the deputy leadership.
The final speaker was Professor Gerry Stoker, who I have heard speak various time before and as on the previous occasions the speech was quite amusing and left those present with a few things to think him, he stressed that party renewal lies within us, and politics matter more than we may be able to get across in the sound bite culture of a 24 hours media. He again considered that more debate and discussion on policy issues is needed but tempered with a need to not forget what has been achieved as long as we recognise the challenges that are still to come, and those area where things are still going wrong.