Sunday, September 24, 2006

So, Conference got in to full swing last night with the delegates meeting in the Radisson hotel (just outside the G-Mex bulding).

Catching up with a few old friends, making a few new ones and all that nice stuff. Bumped in to Lynda McDermott, a colleague from the Labour Movement for Europe, who ensured I was introduced to all of "Labour's biggest gossipers". Lovely people, and boy, can they talk!

After a few glasses of wine, the rumours started. "The PM's on his way", "The PM will be hear in 10" and so on. A few people started to clap, everyone turned their attention to the main entrance, held their breath with anticipation and.....Gordon Brown walked in - it may have been an accident, it may have been a message, it may have been Gordon thinking it was Conference 2007 already, who knows. Either way, the reception he received wasn't exactly that of a Prime Minister in waiting.

Tony Blair's reception, however, was a different story. He must have been a little anxious given recent goings-on as to what would happen. He was welcomed, to his visible relief, with open arms, cheers and a genuine outpouring of support; far different, I would say, to what some of the Sunday Papers have been suggesting.

I must say, without being sycophantic, Tony Blair's address was excellent - "we've done well in the past, and we have to tell everyone that, but now is the time to look to the future" was the message. Probably a hint as to the content of his final conference speech on Tuesday.

The evening wasn't without it's moments of comedy, of course, particularly Hazel Blears' head being a good two feet below the microphone from which she spoke. Bless her! Talking of Hazel, I'd better get to her speech...

3 Comments:

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello there,

First of all I must let you know that I am not a Labour party member or even supporter, but I wish you well at your conference.

Without going into the rights and wrongs of where you are now - about to boot out prematurely one of the BEST Labour Prime Ministers of this
century before he either needs or wants to go - I wonder if you realise what people outside the party think?

Tony Blair won you the last historic election because he is an articulate, far-seeing political thinker with appeal right across political classes. I can't imagine that Labour would have won last May's election (maybe not even the previous two) with any other potential leader that I have seen in
recent years.

True, a lot of us right across all parties are not too happy with some foreign policy issues. We can't always get what we want, folks. BUT, we've all had a heck of a lot out of this Labour leadership and the country has gained and retained a (usually) positive international profile. This was due in
no small measure to Tony Blair's standing as a strong leader, unafraid to ask the difficult questions at home and abroad and unconcerned to persist with unpopular policies. He is a principled man and I think you and we owe him a lot.

I realise it's quite difficult for some of you to raise the question now of "have we got this right?" Developments have a tendency to gain their own momentum and the train is moving out of the station when you don't know it's destination. That's why I am raising this question for you.

I belong to no political party and haven't for the last 14 years, but I have a deep interest in politics and in who is running our country. The electorate voted Labour, largely because of Blair and his policies. I think you should consider whether you really should be taking your present course of action at all.

I have just set up a blog to raise this unspoken thought - Keep Tony Blair For PM. Not forever, as he wants to go some time in this term. But, if shooting yourselves in the foot was your hobby once, you've now perfected the practice. My blog is at http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com

Good luck.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Jonathan Roberts said...

Hi there. Thanks for your letter. Why aren't you a member?!

There is a lot of emphasis on labels at the moment. I've already been asked about 5 times of I'm a Brownite or a Blairite. I'm neither, because such a label suggests belonging to a faction - I don't need to remind you of the 1980's.

Have we got this right? Well I've never been part of the movement to oust Tony, and never will be, nor are the majority of people to whom I've spoken. Perhaps the question is "what damage has all this done?". We'll have to wait and see.

 
At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply Jonathan. Well, I was a parliamentary candidate once upon a time for another party, though I am out of it now. My gut instincts should have been Labour I suppose, if I'd followed the herd, since my father was a Benn man and I was born and brought up in Glasgow. But I was always taught to think for myself, and I rejected the class-based politics (at that time) of Labour and the Conservatives). I know things have moved on since then.

None of this prevents me from recognizing political class, vision, leadership, courage and astute awareness of political reality. Tony Blair has all of these attributes and more.

His speech today had ME reaching for the tissues, and I'm the sort of person who doesn't even cry at funerals (well unless it's a child, of course).

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the PM is a masterclass in public speaking. But he does not need to force it, or learn anything outside of himself because we know he is speaking from the heart. You can't actually learn that, although you can improve with practice. Can you really imagine any of your other prospective leadership candidates coming anywhere near him?

I predict that the Lost Leader syndrome will hang over Labour for years if you let this one slip through your fingers. The Tories are relieved and happy that Tony Blair is about to leave the stage. Of course! They might well win outright now, even with their policy-vacuous party and Tony B. Clone as leader.

I'll help you get the word out to try to keep this PM in any way I can. If you keep him, and show him your appreciation a bit more as a party, I promise I'll vote Labour next time!

 

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