Labour International delegates at the 2018 Labour Conference
Labour International delegates at the 2018 Labour Conference

The Labour Party Conference this year was held in Liverpool, a city with a long history in the Labour movement.

Over 13,000 people, 1,600 of them delegates, attended the conference to hear policy announcements from the shadow cabinet and to debate issues of policy and Labour Party organisation..

Labour International had a delegation of 13 members who participated fully in the Conference. Our delegates managed to speak on four occasions, more than any other delegation These were:.

  • Steve Hudson on Open Selection
  • Jonathan Clyne on Open Selection
  • Katy McCafferty on abortion rights in Northern Ireland and Open Selection
  • Ann Bonner on Brexit and its effects on LI members living outside the UK

Open Selection was clearly the main issue for the LI delegation and is reported on by Fred Gent elsewhere in the early October edition of the Labour International newsletter.

There were some key announcements during the Conference. John McDonnell made several announcements on new economic initiatives, including the intention of the Party to legislate for workers on company boards at an early stage in the next Labour Government. He also announced measures to ensure that multi-national companies started to pay their fair share of tax, with that money being available to fund the UK’s neglected infrastructure.

Other announcements included the re-nationalisation of the rail, mail, energy and water industries under the control of the workforce and users, rather than the old centralised model.

Other shadow ministers made commitments to end the hostile environment on immigration and to take measures to ensure that there will never be another disaster like the fire at Grenfell Tower.

On Brexit, the conference carried a motion confirming that the six tests set out by Labour will be applied to any deal the Tories get, and if the deal does not pass the tests Labour will oppose it in Parliament and demand a general election. Whilst not ruling out a further referendum, it was clear both from Jeremy Corbyn himself and from the floor of conference that a further referendum will change nothing. The only solution which will deal with the shambolic handling of the whole issue by the Tories will be a change of government.

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech covered the whole area of the party and its policies, and outlined an approach to dealing with all of the UK’s problems in a manner far removed from the sterile approach of recent decades, which had the hall on its feet on innumerable occasions.

As well as the Conference itself there were over 100 exhibitors ranging from Trade Unions through Google to the Government’s of Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands with plenty to discuss with any of them.

Alongside all of this were hundreds of fringe meetings ranging from LP policy discussions to meetings run by think tanks, trade unions and other pressure groups. Far too many to allow attendance at even a minority of them. But, in contrast to the dismal Tory Party Conference we saw last week, it shows a vibrant party bursting with ideas, and a party ready for government.

This can only give a brief flavour of the Conference. Here is a longer report I prepared for the Costa Blanca branch.

Ann Bonner

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