Friday, 2 October 2009

Labour in Brighton: old news now the conference is over

So the Labour Party's conference is over. The £5m policing operation is winding down - the anti-truck barricades are being shipped as we speak to Manchester for the Tories host the last shindig of the pre-election conference season.

Party Conferences bring a big boost for local political parties, usually: we Greens have certainly done well at attracting new members and supporters when our national conference has come to the city, twice now in the last four years.

But the local Labour Party really hasn't done so well out of the event. Visitors from across the UK were greeted by posters reminding them of how their vote share had collapsed here in May's European election.

The local candidates haven't really made the media focus work for them: the only stories I've picked up about Simon Burgess is that he's been canvassing with Bob Ainsworth and Jack Straw in Queen's Park and the Bristol estate, that he's a DJ and mobile disco enthusiast, and that he's firmly behind Gord-help-us Brown. In neighbouring Brighton pavilion, the poor Labour candidate Nancy Platts only seemed to receive coverage for what she didn't do: manage to persuade senior members of her own party to deny Green Party candidate Caroline Lucas a platform.

Gord's speech probably did enough to stave off yet another leadership challenge, but his draconian and nationalistic mix of old, insignificant or illiberal policy announcements hasn't won him any friends amongst the voting public. Of course the week ended with the country's most widely read newspaper, The Sun, arguing that Labour had 'Lost It'.

But we must move on. In October the general election campaign will begin in earnest and it'll be a race to get round all the voters, explaining all the positive reasons to vote Green - and letting Labour get on with all the paranoia and dirty tricks.

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