I've been to a few party conferences over the years and even made an unscripted live speech. That was in the days when I thought I was a shoe-in for Prime Minister-in-waiting (although to be truer to my ego, Lord Protector would have been more descriptive).
Party conferences have long been stage-managed and the days when local activists could gain kudos for attacking the leadership in fron to TV cameras have well gone. Contrast Labour's conference of 1985 with Mersey militants shouting at Neil Kinnock during his scuttling taxis speech with the treatment of Walter Wolfgang twenty years later when we witnessed the grotesque chaos of a Labour Party hiring thigs to throw out an Octogenarian Holocaust survivor.
There is of course some semblance of democracy at such functions with local parties and affiliates able to propose motions (or the industrially prosaic Composites of Old Labourspeak) for debate. It was always abit of a fallacy as any victory by the left was ususlly a pyrrhic one as the ledaership could circumvent decisions in the future. This is why my resolution never made it (in full) to any amnifsto though I've haerd that The Monster raving loony party is giving it serious consideration.
Often the most exciting aspects of the gathering was the fringe meetings and concerts; Tony Benn on the chartists On Tuesday; Billy Bragg on the Levellers the next night. They were days of opposition when none of us knew where the next Buggins was coming from. In the coming months, L\bour may have to return to those dark days. The question will be, what has it learned from the past. Can it realistically group as a radical alternative or weill the clamour be for another nice-but-electable leadership to keep the left in its place.
At that conference in 1985, Neil Kinnock also said that there was no use in having principles without power. Arthur Scargill retorted with power being useless without principles. Both were, in their own ways, correct. the trick is to marry both.
On a more laughable note the Odious BNP will be holding its conference in the North-West in November. Griffin explains, "details will be released nearer the time the rough location and cost". They haven't even decided where it is to be held yet which makes a mockery of their claim to be a serious party. Also, this has a potential for security headaches. Given the trouble which is always attracted by these events, it is reprehensible that police and council have insufficient time to plan.
Maybe the details will be released on Facebook with the inevitable motley crew of gate crashers attending and trashing the place like those middle class teenage parties so beloved of the Daily Mail. Actually, this isn't so far fetched given the BNP's love of social network sites these days. as a forthcoming update on the EDL will show, this an effective channel for these purveyors of hate to organise.
BNP members and supporters have been inundated with appeals for donations in the past few months; some for spurious legal battles. others for life membership scams. So, it's interesting to see that in order for members to have an effective say on policy (ho ho ho), they have to satisfy criteria:
This year's BNP National Conference will be held in the north of England on the weekend of 13th to 15th November. It is open to Voting Members only. 1) A Voting Member is an ordinary current member who meets all the following criteria:
(a) A Voting Member must hold two years continuous current membership i.e. 24 months.
(b) A Voting Member must have attended the required number of training events within the current year.
(c) A Voting Member must be a recognised activist as verified by their Regional Organiser. This includes as a matter of course, councillors and other elected members, branch organisers, fund holders and regional officers.
(d) A Voting Members must make a financial contribution, as defined each year. Councillors, branch organisers, fund holders and regional officers are exempt.