Wow! There really is too much to do!
I attended a couple of training sessions – one on Contact Creator and one on Promote. These are both Labour Party software. The first works from electoral lists to provide lists that we can use in canvassing to identify supporters and to follow up with those supporters. I’ve used it before, but only slightly. Promote is their digital advertising platform – taking lists from Contact Creator and targeting selected people with ads on Facebook and/or Instagram.
Devon’s own Luke Pollard, with Margaret Beckett, held a policy seminar on the Environment, Energy and Culture. This seminar was a terrific opportunity to raise questions and issues with the shadow cabinet people and others who are central to developing policy. There were so many excellent topics considered, that I cannot begin to summarize them. One point that Luke made was that addressing the climate crisis is not just a matter for Defra and DCMS, but for all departments. The Labour Party’s aim is climate justice – addressing climate issues but ensuring that the burden of doing so does not fall on the poor is fairly shared and that the solutions work for everyone. The Labour Party is, I believe, unusual in that policy is actually developed by the members to an incredible degree.
With so much to do today, I missed all of the fringe events. I briefly visited a few of the exhibit stands and chatted with some of the people distributing leaflets outside the building. Did you know that in Northern Ireland they are not allowed to stand Labour candidates? I didn’t. Did you know that expats can no longer vote in UK elections when they have lived away for 15 years? As long as they remain citizens, I think that they should be able to vote. One group was lobbying for a “Click Tax” – a small amount of tax to be paid by companies selling online for every time people click in to their site.
On the conference floor, we were well supported by staff from our regional office. They were visible and available, checking to be sure that we knew what was going on and what we needed to do.
Our motion on tidal power was one of 138 that were lumped into the general topic of Green New Deal. This topic was the top choice of unions and the 4th choice of CLPs, so it was selected for debate. That achievement meant that there was a compositing meeting with delegates from the 138 CLPs/Unions to negotiate to form a single, composite motion to be presented and debated on the floor on Tuesday. Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, was present to help the delegates, along with a chair and some office support. The meeting was fraught with some folks wanting a tremendously ambitious (probably unachievable) set of commitments and others wanting to be more realistic, but possibly too unambitious. Tempers flared at times. My role, representing the CLP, was to stand up for the content of our motion – which was quite unlike the other motions. Our motion was short with just one key issue: investigating “the potential for hanrnessing the unstoppable tidal power all around the United Kingdom as an inexhaustible supply of energy in the target of zero carbon emissions . . .”. The other motions were longer and quite multifacetted. We were doing pretty well until the battle was fought over whether or not to include nuclear power in the motion, as one of the zero-carbon means of producing energy. Some CLPs said that they would withdraw if the word nuclear was kept in. Others, including some unions, were loathe to have nuclear as an obvious omission. The compromise reached was to eliminate the mention of all means of generating electricity – so wind, solar, tidal and nuclear were all eliminated. I argued strongly that our motion has the sole aim of stressing the relatively untapped promise of an energy source that was plentiful for the UK and was reliable – and proposed that we include a statement about tapping into less well-developed sources such as tidal power and geothermal (mentioned by another CLP). Sadly, the idea was rejected so tidal power was dropped, I was sorely disappointed, but relieved to be able to leave the meeting at 11:00 – after 4 1/2 hours. Rebecca assured us that Labour were very committed to investigating tidal power, though, so perhaps our efforts may nevertheless spur on activity.
Here’s the view from my seat on the conference floor. The SouthWest region CLPs are all seated in the same general area. I have a very nice seat – on the end of the row, 6 rows back from the front. I took this picture in the morning, before the start of the conference.
The press seems to be depicting the Party as divided and the conference in chaos – but that’s not my impression. Yes, there are disagreements within the Party, but everyone on the stage made it clear that they firmly believe in the late Jo Cox’s observation that “There is more that unites us than divides us.” Labour can save the country, but we must be united. Ian Lavery said that a divided party is nothing and “We have a duty to stay together.” I always remember that the enemy is the Tories and the LibDems – the folks who brough us austerty and all of the damage that has ensued.
The schedule for the day is online at https://action.labour.org.uk/page/content/conference-2019?utm_source=bsd&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=AC19-Day1-Welcome&source=20190921_AC19-Day1-Welcome&subsource=bsd_email