A rose by any other name…..

It’s beyond my comprehension that I am unable to buy a small red rose badge/brooch (as mentioned by Peter Mandelson on Desert Island Disks) from the Labour party shop.

Thank goodness for ebay


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After the ball is over…….

But whatever happens after the Scottish Referendum ball, one thing is clear, it has shaken things up for the whole of the UK.

It has shown that there can be an 85% turn out of electorate, and that they can and want to be engaged in politics.

Both the ‘Yes’ and ‘Better Together’ campaigners were out on the streets proclaiming their policies. I didn’t hear the words – ‘they’re all the same’, mentioned once by any of the media.

So what now?

Yet again Cameron has naively  bumbled on, this time rushing out promises of Constitutional change that he cannot deliver by Christmas.

Yet again, Ed Miliband has taken the lead, saying that the Scottish reforms must be separate from English Welsh and N Ireland Constitutional changes. And these Constitutional Changes must be well thought out.

Meanwhile, we should be out on the streets of Macclesfield NOW,  listening to the Electorate and marshalling our own 85% turnout.

All together now….

And I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

…………..with a Labour Party leaflet



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Tim Roca in Trafalgar Square

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Roca Round Macc

Our Labour Candidate, Tim Roca, was out and about on Saturday,  meeting the people of Macclesfield, with Cheshire East Councillors, including the Mayor, Janet Jackson, Hurdsfield’s Steve Carter, Macc South Laura Jeuda and Macc Central, Ken Edwards.

Successful Street Stall Saturday

Successful Street Stall Saturday

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Monstrous Regiment ( part 2)

And finally……
From Dame Doreen Lawrence, a moving speech, then the Q&A with Ed before Harriet’s brilliant summing up, I was wondering how I could follow this and was looking forward to sharing all my conference moments with Joe ( yes you, my son) but he stood me up, probably knowing the Brighton was going to be engulfed in rain. So I set out by myself for a quick look around starting at The Pavilion So I was delighted to find a group of women swathed in sashes being led by a woman in Edwardian Dress, on a tour of the town following in the footsteps of the Suffragettes. Wot larks! Im up for anything, so I joined them donned the sash and off we went. It’s perhaps not surprising to reflect that Emily Davidson, Christabel Pankhurst &co would have been familiar with the equality issues being faced today. The research for this walk had been undertaken by two women from U3A and at strategic spots along the route, we were shown archive photographs and articles from The Brighton ArgusThe walk was interactive and at strategic points, we were encouraged to shout slogans to get the feel of demonstrating-perhaps familiar to us, but not to Edwardian women. Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion was part of the group and she probably understood better than most, the personal cost of her anti tracking protest. Well done Caroline for carrying on the great tradition of not only Brighton Women, and women like Doreen Lawrence. Caroline reminded us that a plaque to Emily Wilding Davison was put up in a House of Commons broom cupboard, by Tony Benn, to commemorate her hiding from the census in 1911. That’s it then. Labour Conference 2013 over. Some say it will be shown to be a historic moment in the Party’s history but it was quite a highlight in mine. Now the hard work begins.


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Freeze those bills


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Hope not Hate

I didn’t know what to expect from this ( not sandwiches or coffee, though they were plentiful Perhaps because the event was sponsored by ASLEF and we all have fond memories of BR sandwiches.) I like Kevin Maguire associate EDitor of the Mirror, and although I don’t buy the paper I like their clear messages and their support of the party. The word went out that the queue to get into this very small room, was stretching back to the foyer of the The Hilton Hotel so again we moved en masse to a conference hall which ws pretty much filled. I think that this was indicative of the concern amongst Labour activists not the spread of sandwiches. The sub title of the session was: does UKIP present a threat to Labour? Probably not at the ballot, though there was evidence from the floor of Labour members who had defected. Rather, as the MEP Glenys Wilmott said, the UKIp party was moving the Country’s Agenda to the Right. Kevin gave the stats of how many papers were owned by non elected foreign ownership and were happy to give Nigel Farage space. And he also noted that JUstine Greening who was tending an event when Farage ws present, introduced herself to him. Why unless she was courting his party? Our concern was therefore to get the electorate out in 2014 to ensure Labour win in the EUropean elections to stop this country moving further to the right. we of course have NIck Griffin representing the NOrth West so our need is great. But it would be ironic if he were ousted and some right wing UKIP with flawed policies and more scary, with an agenda that takes the UK even further to the right, became our representative in EUrope. The idea makes me feel quite queasy.

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Building a support base ‘Grafting’

The day after the night before: I had no real plans for today except to go to the Conference Centre and be there at the Q and A session. Having become familiar with the layout if the Conference Centre, I gave myself three minutes to get to the How to plan a successful campaign (or some such title) I arrived to find it had been relocated, and not just to another room but to another building. My sense of humour was tested when they told me it was now going to be held in the Osborne Room. Insult to injury.
but I’m so glad I went. Ian McNicol was chairing the group and introduced us to Arnie Graf This laconic American spoke about the need for campaigners to properly engage with people and to hear their story, before asking them for support. So we set about doing an interactive exercise finding out about a stranger in the room. This point was to illustrate the importance of building up a relationship with each potential supporter. Arnie told the story of how the good Labour council in Preston set about reclaiming the Council seats that had turned away after the 2010 elections. So he urged door knocking and street stalls starting with two or three and rather like a pyramid scheme, involving those two or three to go forth.
The plan is so obvious! Just recruiting during up to an election leaves the public feeling like pawns in a Westminster game.
Then the session morphed into the NEW campaign on Freezing Energy Bills and on the Labour site you can calculate where we are encouraged to show people how you can save. But the important thing is to get people talking: down the pub ( volunteers?) at the school gate? Church? Basically we should be out there in the community finding out what are people’s local concerns and then talk about National Policy issues like Energy costs. Most empirical research shows that when presented with a survey of issues that are of concern, 100%returns show cost of living boxes ticked.
Anyway, I am definitely on for the street stall to put some of Arnie’s ideas into practice.

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The Race to the Top

Well done Ed! What a storming speech The wait outside the Conference doors was worth it and my goodness we did wait … Outside lined up on the stairs. Although I have been occupying the same numbered seat, and as a delegate, was told that it would still be mine for the leaders speech, we were also warned that were we not in it by 2-00 pm it would be given to a visitor. So the queue to beat the clock began at noon, with delegates picnicking precariously.
Once inside the Hall it was star gazing time again: Eddie Izard, Steve Coogan, The Kinnocks, Ken Livingstone my new best friends Dennis Skinner and his wife and of course the fabulous shadow cabinet. I recognised many of the faces that were ranged behind Ed, some of them delegates who had spoken in debates earlier in the week.
I know that standing ovations are traditional at political rallies but the policies were genuinely surprising and overwhelmingly approved. Wrap around child care ; the abolition of the ‘ bedroom Tax’ Health and Welfare reform – you now know the list that we will take to the doorstep.
But the big surprise was the Energy Freeze. More of that later.
Off next to the Huff Post debate with Tessa Jowell, Medi Hussain, Sadiq Khan Ken Livingstone Isabel Hardman and Owen Jones. The title of the seminar was ‘ Ed or Dead’ and the journalists were asked how they rated the speech. they gave it fulsome praise. All the panelist were on good form.HuffingtonPost
But remember the main aim of conference for some was where to get food. My fellow NW delegates fancied the NUT fish and chip supper but it was ticket only and we didn’t have one. So we ended up peeping into rooms where seminars had finished and there were left-overs. I found myself with a plate of sandwiches liberated from the Friends of Israel. I felt a bit bad, having signed petitions at The friends of Palestine and I was seated outside the reception for the Arab League: a sort of gastronomic Middle East Bingo!

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The Nuclear Family

My new best friends are the young people ‘manning’ the exhibition stall promoting the Nuclear industry. (NIA) Somewhat controversially I have been supporting them and visit daily, but dear reader, they have a system of lockers where you can charge your mobile phone safely and securely- you lock the door, pocket the key and off you go. I don’t think I am directly connected to Sellafield.
Getting into conversation with one of them, it transpires that he is taking his girlfriend for a weekend to Shrigley Hall. She is looking forward to the Spa, but I was able to tell this enthusiastic golfer that he could indulge his hobby also. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned that they do wedding there and she may be casing the joint. The exhibitors are not necessarily Labour supporters, (though I am doing my best with the Nuclear boys) In my Hotel are some delegates from Ealing and they have discovered one of their Tory Councillors has sneaked in under the Radar and is on one of the exhibition stalls. It’s thought it might be something to do with opticians ( Tory, therefore myopic? Geddit?)
As the conference proceeds, I bump into people I have met previously, sat next to or asked advice from. It’s wonderful to hang out with the like-minded and there is a great feeling of community and a will to do something about the many injustices in the land. Many of the delegates and prospective Labour Parliamentary Candidates seem so young -similarly the police, so it’s not surprising to find detailed talk of last nights Karaoke, or tonight’s Disco going on. I was back at the Hotel watching Damian McBride in confessional mode, on Newsnight. Today is sunny and very warm. It seems a shame to be indoors, but the future Prime Minister is speaking later and I don’t want to miss that!

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