As conference starts properly, what strikes me most is the broad range of expectations about what conference is actually for. Some see it as a bastion of grass roots policy development, others see it as a good opportunity to get drunk with people they have not seen for a while. Personally I think its great for the fringe events and being able to have some serious discussions around topics that interest me, as well as the ability to have a few drinks and some fun. However, with the talk from the new Leader being around making Conference more powerful in terms of policy making, I have also come to another conclusion, that it is very elitist and that is down to the cost.
With the cost of the conference itself, and then the accommodation, the transport and the food/drink budget, then its not a cheap week. Coupled with the fact that its in a working week and if your an idiot like me, the cost of a replacement pass is £25.
Therefore unless you are a CLP delegate, then the cost of conference is quite prohibitive to those who we would want to have a say in our policy making, and therefore making conference have a bigger say than it already does would be a move that drives more exclusivity.
Yesterday was quite a good day in all, I had plans to make many events, and didn’t quite manage them all. I used the morning to visit and talk to people on the trade stands, including putting together my bucket list for beast cancer, talking to CAMRA about the Pub Hub task group that I’m about to lead and the ins and outs of supporting entrpeneurs.
The fringe events I went to included the Police and Crime fringe which was really interesting to get the perspective from the Labour PCCs who have had to deal with implementing the cuts in a fair way.
It was unfortunate that the fringe on devolution was moved to clash with the Friends of the Forces event and therefore I missed it, but the Forces event was a good opportunity to meet the new shadow defence team.
I was pleased to hear that the CLP delegates had voted against having the debate on Trident, hopefully recognising the importance of the nuclear deterrent. Though, it would have been interesting to have the debate and see where the conference went with it. I certainly would have been there.
The evening events also included Scottish Night where I saw Kezia Dugdale give a fantastic speech, then onto the European event to hear how we were going to campaign to keep us in Europe and then Welsh night.
Some interesting debate and discussion.