The Fringe event I attended this evening was superb! I was determined to attend this rally: Investment not cuts: Time to end Tory austerity. It was sponsored by Unite the Union and organized by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity. I arrived about 10 minutes before the start to find the room completely full to overflowing. I persisted, seeing a possible spot against the far wall where I might stand. When I arrived there I discovered that people were sitting on the floor all the way up to the speaker stand, but I decided that I could stand just the other side of the speaker stand. The photo here was taken from my spot, looking back across the crowd; you cannot see the open doors with people standing outside the room as well.

I was just two feet from the desk on the dais where the speakers sat, so I had an excellent view. The challenge was taking notes – if you know me you know that I compulsively take notes – but I managed it with some yoga-like postures.  Later in the event one woman in the front row left and her neighbour signalled me to take the empty seat, which I gladly did. The panel of speakers was varied and inspiring, and included John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon, Laura Pidcock, Tony Kearns (CWU), Grace Blakeley, Maya Goodfellow, Carolyn Jones, Rokhsana Fiaz, Matt Wilgress and Steve Turner.

 

Working backwards through the day: The Conference floor was a busy place with excellent speeches and revelations by Angela Rayner (Education and Skills), Jonathon Ashworth (Health), Diane Abbott (State), and Richard Burgon (Justice). Ms Abbott’s standing ovation was extended and showed tremendous appreciation for her and her work.  There were reference backs on policy documents (Don’t ask!) and Composite motions on schools and on the NHS, as well as an important motion from the Women’s Conference.  (The Women’s Conference has traditionally been the day before the main Conference, but it was held much earlier this year because the main conference required more time to accommodate the additional motions for debate that were needed in response to the democracy review.)

The motions all passed; they committed the Labour Party to:

  • Doing away with private schools, which serve only 7% of the population,
  • Stop the spread of academies and put publicly-funded schools under the control of the local authorities,
  • Increase funding for the NHS and end privatisation and outsourcing,
  • Take other steps to recover the NHS as it was originally intended to function,
  • Provide improved rights for migrant women in terms of medical care, especially with regard to childbirth, and access to support, especially in cases of domestic abuse.

 

We also voted on several items that came from the democracy review. Results will be made available tomorrow, I’m sure.

 

In the morning, I also attended some further training on effective use of Contact Creator, Labour’s campaign tool.

 

Each day the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) produces a report for that day; the report is provided to us by email and in printed form. If you want to see today’s report, you might be able to access it at http://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CAC-2-Final.pdf Tomorrow’s report – showing the activities of the day – will be made available around 8:30, if today was anything to go by. The day will open for me with a policy seminar at 8:30. I’m not sure whether to go to Health and Social Care or Justice and Home Affairs; I’m leaning toward the latter, but we shall see.  Tuesday morning I will go to the policy seminar on Work, Pensions and Equality.

If you have any questions about conference, I’ll answer them if I can. Send an email to me at women@torbaylabour.org.uk


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