Party Conference Update, Tuesday 25th

I enjoyed yesterday; the atmosphere in the hall was really energised. The day was dominated by standing ovations – two for Kier Starmer; three for Emily Thornberry and three for Diane Abbott plus several during the Palestine debate, although perhaps the latter should be described as carnival. It was extraordinary to see a sea of flags waving as Harlow CLP moved the motion.

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I did want to speak in the Brexit debate (as did our colleague Charlie Rowley from York Central) but neither of us were picked. It was a good, calm and rational debate on both motions plus the Windrush motion, one that I scarcely recognised from the radio this morning – should I be surprised?

Mick spoke in his ‘reference back’ on Fracking and this was carried overwhelmingly at the end of the day. Mick and I have noticed that whilst Fracking doesn’t appear to be at the forefront of conference business this week there is nevertheless, a strong theme that climate change is right at the top of the party’s agenda. This was evidenced by Rebecca Long- Bailey’s speech yesterday and in a Policy Forum debate that I attended where Barry Gardiner re-iterated that the business and trade forum strongly recognised that the emphasis on Growth and GDP at the cost of sustainability was not a valid approach and he reminded us that he had introduced the Fracking ban.

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At the fringe events Keir Starmer gave his analysis of the reasons that the Brexit negotiations have been so ineffective. He observed that the Tories have approached it from an ideological perspective without first having assessed the needs of the British people or economy. He had worked on the Good Friday agreement and used that example to underline how the Tories had fundamentally failed to understand that the issue was not in any way a technology issue and that it was about Irish history and sensitivities.

Mick has proposed that the NEC convene a meeting of front line CLPs and we await an answer; as he said to the platform yesterday “it wasn’t a rhetorical question”. We have the view that Fracking is an issue for CLPs but not for affliates, especially Unions, but Mick was approached by a representative of Unite who specifically wanted him to know that Unite had supported the reference back.

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It’s the Jeremy’s speech today; I won’t be sitting on the floor in the dark on Thursday morning to write an update so please watch on TV, and I hope to be back on the floor next year. It’s been a really good experience – thanks for selecting me to be your representative.

Gordon Brown warns of Brexit ‘paralysis’

Britain could be “paralysed” for years because Westminster parties have not “woken up” to the causes of Brexit, ex-prime minister Gordon Brown says.

He said the country risked getting “trapped” in Brexit “small print”.

The former Labour PM told the BBC politicians also needed to focus on low wages, migration and the NHS.

He declined to criticise Jeremy Corbyn personally – saying the current Labour leader was a “phenomenon” who engaged young people in a way he couldn’t.

Mr Brown was the UK’s prime minister between 2007 and 2010 and backed Remain in the EU referendum.

‘Failure to act’

Speaking to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, he said Parliament had not yet grasped the “drivers of the dissatisfaction” that led to the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

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Unless these “root causes” were addressed, he said: “We will not be able to unite as a nation and we face a future where we are paralysed into inaction by our failure to get our act together and move on.”

He listed stagnant wages, “left-out communities”, migration, sovereignty and the NHS as issues that needed to be addressed alongside the finer points of Brexit, describing the referendum result as a “huge political earthquake”.

Appealing to the “Westminster leaderships”, he added: “We’re not addressing these problems, we’ve got to address them now.”

He was also asked about the sale by the government of another tranche of shares in Royal Bank of Scotland.

Mr Brown, who was prime minister when the bank was bailed out, said there was “no excuse” for selling the shares at under their potential value.

He also warned that “there are still real risks in the financial system”.

See BBC Interview

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