Parliament is in it’s short Conference recess as the main parties go off for their first physical meeting since the pandemic struck. Conference is a traditional part of the party calendar – for some a mix of politics and socialising to be enjoyed, for party business managers more a case of enduring rather than enjoying. The two main parties see Conference in very different ways. The Conservatives are more top down in their approach with a chance for members to hear about and discuss policy decisions made by their leadership. For Labour there’s real debate, often disagreement and sometimes fall out during what is part of a wider policy making process.
Labour was in Brighton and important changes were made to party rules which will allow MP’s to focus more in campaigning in their constituencies rather than fret about deselection. There was also the almost inevitable loose talk which allowed the media to focus on rows and disagreement. But Labour did debate and decide on important matters. There were bold announcements about work, housing and help for businesses – issues that really matter in the real lives of people. There were also important messages to underline Labour’s moving forward particularly about fair taxation and wise spending. The contrast with what was happening outside could not have been starker – a crisis in fuel supply, the threat of Christmas chaos, rising gas prices, Universal Credit cuts and future NIC rises. Our political system requires a strong opposition and an alternative Government. This year’s conferences may well show how much progress has been made towards that.