Strictly speaking the title of this piece should be ‘Having joined the party’ – what happened next? If you read part one of my story you may remember that it ended at the Brighton Conference with me managing to get both Jeremy Corbin and Keir Starmer to sign my McLibel book, what I didn’t mention in part one was that by this time I was a member of the Broadland Constituency Party Executive Committee.
A Year on from having joined I found myself at another AGM. At this meeting there was a change in some of the committee members and the person elected as the new Chair had been the Press and Communications Officer on the out going committee. At this stage he did not want to relinquish the post but after about a fortnight of trying to do both jobs decided that the work load was too much and so the Press and Communications job became vacant and I decided to apply since I have some knowledge of the role from my employment before retirement.
I soon found out that doing this job for the Labour Party is unlike doing it for anybody else. Most companies that have a press officer role want that person to achieve as much publicity as possible, but now I found a perverse situation where there was a great reluctance every time I came up with an idea. There were so many restrictions on me I nearly threw in the towel yet I persevered and very gently (for me) managed to get people to see that I could actually be sensible in the role and knew what I was doing.
Fast forward now to the party conference in Liverpool where I was the Broadland delegate. Talk about being dropped in the deep end. We had put forward a motion on Academisation of schools; it was accepted along with motions on the same subject from other constituencies. This meant it went forward for compositing, or composting as I kept calling it.
A Compositing meeting is a lively affair because everyone starts off thinking that his or her own version of the motion is the best and tries to dominate the proceedings, (not me though – I remained polite throughout, but only because I hadn’t got the first clue about what was going on at first). I soon picked it up though and being a firm believer in a whisper being better than a shout, concentrated on giving my views to the unbelievably patient L. Party admin staff. After two long hours we managed to agree a form of words that satisfied everybody and came to choosing who would propose, second, and possibly speak. Nobody wanted to do any of it but gradually two people agreed to propose and second and we left it at that. We were all getting pretty tired by now especially as no tea or biscuits had been on offer.
I came out of the room realising I might have to speak on a subject I knew little about so I set about finding some help and luckily one of the exhibitors let me have some really good leaflets and I jotted down some key points on a piece of cardboard. Having sat through several speakers by now I realised a tedious longwinded know-it-all speech was not required – bullet points would do.
Having invested in a rather fetching red hat whilst I was on holiday I was easily spotted by the lady chairing the conference and chosen to speak. I walked purposefully down to the stage then found I’d left my glasses behind and ran back to get them in the style of Usain Bolt.
I can honestly say standing on that stage was one of the proudest moments of my life. The next day I couldn’t remember a word, neither could anyone else but, they all remembered my red hat and because of that thought the speech was brilliant. Those of you who have seen the video know better, but hey – it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t change the fact that in 2018, l stood on the stage at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool and made a speech.