2016 Labour Conference Delegate Report

As I arrived in Liverpool I was abit scared as to what the experience would be like, I told myself “Nichola you are strong and you can do this.” On arriving at the hotel, I could see in the distance written big and bold 2016 Labour Conference. Got settled into my hotel room and anxiously waited for the morning to come.

SATURDAY 24th September– Women’s conference, after I stood on a line for twenty minutes to be interviewed by the police to receive my PASS. As my name got called entered this dark booth, the female officer entered my name onto the computer and straight away got told that everything was fine I should return to the waiting area. After another twenty minutes’ wait, which took me past the time I should have been at the leadership election results. My name got called and I was handed my Labour Party members pass. In my opinion the process for collection of passes should be reviewed.

As I made my way to the auditorium in the ACC building I noticed the hundreds of women who had made the journey to conference, the mood was cheerful. I was in awe of the stage setup.

Angela Rayner too to the stage confidently and delivered what I think was a very moving, honest and welcoming speech about her journey into politics. She made mention of her mother who had accompanied her to conference and who also sat in the row in front of me. Angela mentioned that at conference and after she would like to incorporate the slogan “ONE PARTY- ONE FAMILY-ONE LABOUR” which all Labour Party members should follow.

I felt inspired by her story of being a teen mother and the way Labour’s SURE START CENTRES gave her and her friends the help need to be able to get out there and further her education.

There was also a tribute to the late JO COX who was a remarkable mother, friend, wife and daughter. The panel as well as the audience were emotional. I felt like I had known JO COX personally due to the lovely words spoke about this warm motivated woman.

The message on the importance of engaging and educating women about politics was carried across clearly, we were encouraged to become actively involved in our own individual communities and not allow our voices and opinions to be silenced by a popular male culture society regarding politics. We were told to become our sister’s keepers and adopt the practice of supporting and encouraging our women to step up and be counted.

Domestic violence against women was a topic of government that was also mentioned, the government pledging to invest in programs to educate women and girls on the signs of domestic violence. From funding, legal aid to bring to account the perpetrators of domestic violence. This financial aid would also help with counselling programs and shelters for both women and children of domestic violence.

They also touched on the fact that although Teresa May was a woman who stands against everything that is wrong for women in Britain. Referring to the government closures of SURE START CENTRE and cut in funding for programs for women and children. Also, backing the costs of child care which is the highest in Europe.

SUNDAY 25th

FABIAN SOCIETY- CHANGING WORK Guests- Yvette Cooper MP, John Park, Nita Clarke, Norman Pickervance, Chair- Cameron Taite. The topic of conversation was zero hour contracts and the exploitation of workers @ sports direct which pays workers half the minimum wage nothing close to what the living wage is meant to be. They also touched on the fact that the pay for persons working in the social care sector should be increased and THE PAY SHOULD REFLECT THE SKILLS.

It was agreed that labor needs to look at increasing the national minimum wage. Labour also need to make employees the forefront of every business. Companies should provide support and training at every stage of development for its employees.

I found this fringe section very engaging, educational and informative.

While at the fringe I took the opportunity to visit the slavery museum which was a very emotional and educating experience, after which I visited the titanic museum where I got to see artifacts of the ships remains and read excerpts of survivor’s stories. I bumped into MP Dianne Abbott who I had a conversation with about how I had felt my experience of the conference was so far. We also engaged in talked about becoming more involved in community projects- the THAXTED HOUSE Story –about the hard work my village ward councilors put into helping the residents of village. We also discussed the battles I have faced with the council.

26th September -I attended john MacDowell MP speech at which he made the point that now the eldership elections were over we must prepare ourselves not just for fighting an election but moving into government. And that to do that successfully we must have policies and the plans for their detailed implementation on the shelf, in place for when we enter government whenever that election comes.

He also said that since the Brexit vote, the Tories have come up with a plan whatsoever. They have no clue. Half of them want a hard brexit, to walk away from 30 years of investment in our relationship with Europe. He explained that working with our socialists and social democratic colleagues across Europe, Labours aim is to create a new Europe which builds upon the benefits of the EU but tackles the perceived disadvantages.

27th – I attended a seminar called it takes balls to talk- which is an initiative which enables help for men and young boys to help with suicide.  I also attended a seminar called training to become a councilor where we were told the stories of the process the different councilors went through to get to selection, yet were encouraged to take the leap of faith if we were contemplating becoming councilors ourselves

I attended Angela Rayner’s speech as well where I was moved by her speech yet again. This woman’s journey is one of hard work and determination and never believing you are not good enough.

28th September -my interview with BBC5 live where the guests, Emma Barnet who presented Dave Prentice representative for unison the union, Judith Blake the leader of Leeds city council, Baroness Angela Smith and MP Catherine West.

The general mood at the revolution bar was electric maybe it’s because it was the final day of conference or because I was eager to hear my leader Jeremy Corbyn’s speech…. I was asked the question what services would you like a Labour government to focus on to which I replied the NHS simple because of my recent experience with the NHS some good and some appalling. I explained how for the past three years I have had a very hard battle health wise and that I had suffered two mini stroke in three months and on one occasion was left in the corridor of the hospital.

After the interview was over I got a chance to speak to Baroness Angela Smith and MP Catherine West who exchanged details with me and said that they would love to keep in touch and would also be available to help request permitting with my Thaxted House vision.

My leader’s- speech as I waited with baited breath my dream day almost got spoiled as I was told that I pass would not allow me access into the hall. I was angry but I remained calm and called our secretary Margaret Mullane who worked her magic. Next thing I knew I was being swept away by this lovely young woman who got me past security and the long lines and I was seated 8 rows away from the stage into a delegate’s seat. As I sat down I felt relieved yet very excited I was about to hear from the man of the hour.

As Jeremy walked on stage I started to shout “A PARTY UNITED CAN NEVER BE DIVIDED” next thing I knew this was being echoed as a chorus in my row.

The aura of this man was electrifying even his critic could not help but feel the love he spoke firstly to thank Liverpool and its people for hosting the conference…then he paid tribute to the Hillsborough families and he spoke about the Orgreave campaigning and said that winning justice for all and changing society was what Labour was about.

He spoke about rebuilding trust in the party and with its members, he spoke about supporting the working-class people. More than anything he spoke of unity. He spoke of Jo Cox’s murder. It touched me when he paid tribute to the parliamentary colleagues who stepped forward in the summer to fill the gaps in the shadow cabinet and ensured Labour could function as an effective opposition in parliament.

In the end, he touched on every matter affecting us on a whole as a country.

I cried for he spoke with such honesty, love and most importantly he has a positive vision.

Nichola Goodman – Women’s Officer for Dagenham and Rainham Labour Party & 2016 Conference Delegate

 

Moving On from the 2016 Labour Leadership Election pt.1

September 24th 2016 was a great day for the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn won the 2016 Labour Leadership Election with an increased mandate – rising from 59.6% to 61.8% of the total vote, despite increased membership and some rather dubious actions by both the PLP and the Labour NEC. It has been a trying time, but Jeremy Corbyn supporters can’t help but feel vindicated by this result. We put out faith in the Labour Party, in Jeremy Corbyn, and in democracy, and it bore out.

Although for many, this is a period of jubilation, we should look forward to how we can move on past this Leadership crisis and start rebuilding the party. There are a number of things that we must do, both nationally and locally, if we are to be able to fight the Tories and bring Labour to election victory in 2020 (or earlier).

Reuniting the Labour Party

Our first step is to reunite the Labour Party. This unnecessary Leadership election has been divisive in many ways, with a lot of personal attacks from both sides. Comments made about Corbyn cannot be taken back, and it will be tense times as Owen Smith supporters decide whether or not they can unite behind Corbyn following his victory.

It is important to understand that there were many reasons why people chose to support Owen Smith. For many, Jeremy Corbyn represented a contentious leader that threatened to split the party, so it can be understood why they might favour the less divisive candidate, Owen Smith. In many ways, this Leadership election wasn’t about Jeremy Corbyn versus Owen Smith, but whether or not the Labour Party should have Jeremy Corbyn as its leader.

With the results bearing out that there was a majority of members who believe in Jeremy Corbyn, it’s time for Owen Smith voters to reconcile their differences with Corbyn and get behind him. The infighting and bickering is damaging the party, and the only winners are the Tories.

Nobody wants a split within Labour, but if people can’t get behind Jeremy Corbyn and support the Labour Party, then they might want to consider leaving it. Groups like Progress, Saving Labour, and Labour Tomorrow will have to decide which is the bigger threat – there may be little choice but to proscribe them if they are intent on spending more time fighting Corbyn than the Tories.

The Labour Party is supposed to be an open, inclusive, democratic socialist party – and that means that we should be able to put aside our differences to fight our mutual opponents. As of yet, Labour has been unable to do this because of elements within the party.

Inquest into the Anti-Democratic Processes of the Labour NEC

Whilst me must move on from the Labour Leadership contest, we must also learn from it’s mistakes. For many, this contest has been a negative event, as they have sought to get involved with the Labour Party, only to be disenfranchised for various reasons. Newer members have not only been confused over their right to vote for the Leadership, but many members have also been suspended or refused membership of the party, based on various claims.

With over 180,000 members believed to have been “purged” in this manner, this is a huge number of people and potential volunteers, campaigners, and activists to turn away to another party. If anything, the Labour Party will need these members to help make sure that we can bring the Labour message to the people.

As such, it is important that we look into these purged memberships as quickly as possible, else all resemblance of democracy within the Labour Party looks shallow and meaningless. Only through transparency, can we bring hope back to those who were purged by mistake, and confirm those who truly should have been removed from the party. How else is the party supposed to recruit new members, and voters, if the threat of dismissal hangs over their head like the Sword of Damocles?

Further Steps

These are just some of the steps that we should take to move on towards success following the 2016 Labour Leadership Election.

Labour needs to move on – to bring 21st century democracy and 21st century socialism to the public. We have the means to achieve this lofty goal – we just need to make sure that we have the will.

Christina Freeman – Village Ward Labour Party Member