I took the opportunity of the train journey back to London to reflect on the highs and lows of conference.
1. Peter Mandelson. Arriving at conference as Baron Mandelson of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and of Hartlepool in the County of Durham, he left as Our Mandy. A pitch perfect delivered speech that lifted the mood of conference and prepared it perfectly for the leader’s speech the day after.
2. Phil Packer. A very moving and powerful speech that was heard with respect and admiration by all those in the conference hall. I personally was very moved by the determination and commitment Phil has shown to overcome the challenges he now faces in his life. This was an inspirational speech by someone who has refused to allow the severe injuries he received in Iraq to define and confine his life from hereon.
3. Labour’s sisypheans. I was struck by the energy and passion displayed by delegates from constituencies that have never elected Labour MPs – even during the past 12 years. If Labour Party members from Tunbridge Wells, Taunton and Tewkesbury see the reason why we should campaign hard for a fourth term than those of us in Tooting, Tynemouth and Torfaen should do so as well.
4. Our excellent PPCs. As well as the talent we have in parliament already, Labour boasts some extremely bright and exciting candidates and conference was a platform for them to shine. Rachel Reeves (Leeds W), Stella Creasy (Walthamstow), Chuka Umanna (Streatham), Lucy Powell (Manchester) and Andrew Pakes (Milton Keynes) are amongst a number of younger candidates who show that a fourth term Labour government will have plenty of new talent to call upon.
5. Siobhan McDonagh MP. A really passionate speech on behalf of her Tamil constituents, whose friends and loved ones are being treated so appallingly by the Sri Lankan government. Here was a great example of how to use the floor of conference to speak directly to delegates about a cause close to one’s heart and to do so in a way guaranteed to ensure wider coverage for it.
1. The Sun. The Sun clearly doesn’t shine on the righteous. People not papers determine elections.
2. Andrew Marr. I saw Andrew Marr a few times around Brighton and he looked extremely uncomfortable on each occasion, as he should. His question to the Prime Minister was completely inappropriate and a huge error of judgement.
3. Martin McGuinness. Northern Ireland’s peace process has come at a great cost to many, so would it really have been a hardship for Martin McGuinness to have declined the invitation to attend The Guardian’s reception in the Grand Hotel, scene of the IRA’s murderous bombing in 1984 (and a fortnight ahead of the 25th anniversary of that outrage)?
4. Grand Hotel. £3.50 for a coffee was one of a number of daylight robbery charges – with most of the Sussex constabulary present I am surprised no arrests were made!
5. Compass. Sorry comrades, but there is a time and a place for plural politics. It can NEVER be right to give a platform to a political opponent (in this case the Green’s Caroline Lucas) at a meeting taking place in the seat in which our opponent is a candidate.
Stuart King is Labour PPC for Putney