This was my first time as a delegate so I was determined I would do the job to the best of my ability. Firstly, I resolved to be in the conference hall early everyday to get myself organised, which I did and I stayed until the close of business everyday. This was because I felt I could not come to a decision about any voting without having heard all of the debates. It was very easy to come to a view ahead of conference but then when the speakers put the various augments forward – I found I was often changing my mind back and forth and could only come to a definite view once I had heard them all.
On the first day we were presented with a large document, an 81-page Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) report, detailing the various rule changes the National Executive Committee (NEC) wanted us to agree. None of us was happy with this as we had not had the time to read any of it so several speakers put forward the view that the debate and voting should be deferred until we had all had time to go through it properly.
There was overwhelming support for this amongst the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) delegates, but we were disappointed when it was announced that the rule change vote would go ahead because of the union delegates voting not to defer consideration. I confess I’m not sure how this works but since there was no way it could be changed I did my best to go through the rule changes one by one in the short time available. [NB: All votes at conference are taken on the basis of the electoral college made up of 50% of the CLP votes and 50% of the Union votes.]
I began by placing a tick beside everything I agreed with and found to my happy surprise that I only disagreed on a couple of minor points to do with a length of membership concession being proposed for BAME members (can you enlarge a little on this pleas). It was not possible to cherry pick the various options on the individual card votes and on balance I felt the other rule changes were fair so I voted in favour.
I was extremely pleased that our motion on academisation went through for compositing. There were five other CLPs putting forward similar motions. These were:
- Truro and Falmouth CLP
- Bognor Regis and Little Hampton CLP
- Nottingham East CLP
- Socialist Education Association, in addition to us.
This meant I finished up having a very long day. Our compositing meeting was scheduled for 7 pm but didn’t start until 7.45 because we had to wait for Angela Raynor to fly in from somewhere. No tea or biscuits were provided, nor water!
The Truro and Falmouth delegate immediately put himself forward, suggesting that their motion said everything there was to say, but he was gently but firmly put in his place by Bognor Regis. Nottingham chipped in and then it became a free for all with us going around and around in circles for 2 hours until we, (with the help of the excellent Labour Party Staff), came up with a form of words acceptable to all. A mover and seconder were chosen – then at last we could escape.
I decided at this point that I might try to speak in support of the motion and I am extremely grateful to the Anti Academies Alliance who had a stall at conference and gave me the leaflet I based my speech on. I was one of the last people to speak, but I have a loud penetrating voice so I think I woke up anyone trying to have a snooze.
I got some good feedback from other people the next day, but all I could think of was the slip of the tongue I made, and how I could have done it better. Now you can all see it on U-tube you can all make your own minds up. I’m really pleased I did it though; it was too good an opportunity to miss. I hope to get some further publicity from it in due course.
To watch Marianne’s speech start at 1:52:13
I voted in favour of all the motions, except the one of Brexit, which took an unbelievable five hours to rehash everything that’s been said on the subject a thousand times before in their compositing meeting —the composite was crafted from 130+ motions submitted on the subject. The reason I could not support the motion as put to the delegates was because they had put in a paragraph calling for a peoples vote.
My understanding of the discussion we had regarding Brexit at our last AGM was that we wanted our MPs to decide what to do, once we knew what the deal was. I felt that trying to push for what amounts to a second referendum could cause new unforeseen problems and make many voters lose faith in democracy. The motion was carried so we shall have to see how it pans out. I knew that was likely to be the case anyway.
We had some inspirational speakers, too many to mention, on all sorts of subjects making me really proud to belong to this party of caring people working towards a fairer world.
Jeremy was on top form for the leader’s speech, and the conference ended with the Liverpool Choir leading the singing of the Red Flag and Jerusalem. There was a real buzz as we walked out of the hall, and now I can’t wait for Brighton.