Report back from the Labour Party Conference, Brighton September 2019

SHA Central Council members spoke to two Composite motions at conference and to a Reference Back.

Saturday 21 September. For the Many Not the Few.

As some of you may know our delegate Andy Thompson was taken seriously ill on the Friday before the Conference.  He spent the whole time in hospital, and I would like to thank the people who supported him – especially Miro Hussain, Ken Smith, and the West Midlands delegates.  He scared me when I saw him, but I am pleased to report all is good now. Thanks to Brian Fisher and Ken and Miro too for their support to me.

 

We arrived early at Conference and set up our part of the Socialist Societies stall.

Conference began at 2.30pm and closed with the Priorities Ballot and votes sometime after 6.30pm. We struggled with what seemed like endless card votes, then some being withdrawn, others changed. As I was chairing and speaking at our Fringe, I had to leave at 5pm to get to our venue and set things up, however we spoke to the appropriate people to explain our position and ensure that I was present at Compositing should our motion go forward.  I explained to the Fringe meeting I needed to prioritise the compositing and checked my phone for all forms of communication minute by minute.  I was not called, and it seems we were overlooked. I intend to complain as this was not acceptable.

Further clarification of the following report.

Brian Fisher and myself were present almost continously during the main conference proceedings and our voting record was 100% – not just on health.

I am awaiting hand surgery and when Pat Merrick, my friend and local Ellesmere Port and Neston CLP delegate’s report came through, she generously said this could be used.

I would like to formally record my grateful thanks for sparing me this section of the report.

 

Sunday 22 September PEOPLE BEFORE PRIVILEGE

10am

Mark Drakeford, Welsh Labour Leader, addresses Conference, on new policies on NHS free prescriptions and free school meals as in Wales, then Brexit: strongly on For Remain

Followed by Angela Raynor. Each of the last Tory Governments has achieved the impossible, been worse than the last. We will upgrade social mobility to social justice and close the class loop holes of the elite public schools. Taxing privilege and improve education for all. We will deliver a new Sure Start programme, free early education for all 2,3&4-year-olds. We will end Tuition Fees.  There will be lifelong learning for all.

Every child growing up today will receive life & health education from primary onwards. We will scrap Ofsted. Ending the spiralling cost of school uniform. Fifty years ago, Jennie Lee founded the OU. A comprehensive and open university for academic and non-academic education. We will not just spend we will INVEST. (standing ovation)

SHA Chair Dr Alex Scott-Samuel spoke passionately while seconding ‘this brilliant motion’ – Composite 2 on the NHS
(Go to 2.25.18 where Alex started speaking) 
“if you unanimously support this motion and make it the centre of Labour’s Manifesto we will win the next General Election”
The Motion was carried – well done Alex and of course Bonnie Craven, who proposed it on behalf of Sutton and Cheam CLP.
Central Council member Punita Goodfellow gives a powerful speech in seconding Composite 1 resolution on Social Care
(Go to  2.12.22 where Punita starts speaking)
“Social Care is one of the most pressing and urgent injustices suffered by invisible millions who are the many and not the few. They deserve so much more.”
The motion was carried, well done Punita, and Aylesbury CLP which proposed it.
Then it was Referencing Back.

Sex & relationships from Bristol, LGBT.

P.33 Beaconsfield CLP ending the process of selection at 11plus where it still exists

Tottenham CLP neither sex nor gender realignment etc has been left off.

Labour International CLP. Section in Ed & Skills, despite youth services , fostering, social services privatised & outsourced. Need to bring back into public ownership.

Brighton pavilion CLP ESOL is the only explicit mention of provision for BAME education.

Chungford&Woodford, remove the ref to Grammar schools and abolish them. Take academies and free schools back into Council control.

Mark Serwotka addressed conference, 1000 days following his heart transplant. He was excellent and had us all standing as he talked about working towards a true socialist government led by JC , and not having our NHS stripped away by Trump and other businesses.

More referencing back.

Various speakers.

Alex Scott-Samuel  ‘referenced back’ part of the Health and Care Commission element in the NPF Report – since the report fails to include some very significant parts of existing Labour Party Health Policy. Alex starts speaking at 1hr 59 minutes https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0008vh8/labour-party-conference-2019-22092019-morning-session
Unfortunately this reference back was narrowly defeated –  51% /49%

 

UNISON leader Dave Prentice spoke on NHS workers. He was diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago given months to live and will fight to save the NHS , only one option Labour has to win power and be united.

Jonathon Ashworth, began by praising Jenny for her speech yesterday on her experience with the NHS. Then about the father of the 7-day old baby girl and was confronted by BJ on a photo op… Omar Salem spoke for a nation, it matters that 4.4m people are on the waiting list, we are bottom of the league for cancer treatment. Omar’s daughter is now doing well, but only a Labour Government can save our NHS, end austerity…we will rebuild the mental health service. 3k people lose their life to drug and alcohol problems. His dad was an alcoholic. Addiction recovery must be properly funded. We have lost 14k beds, and have some of the lowest numbers of MRI scans in Europe. Patients deserve better. We will invest and not by PFI to rebuild our health services. We need more capacity not less, and the cuts under Tories will end. He was inspired by Greta Thunberg. He will declare a climate emergency under a Labour NHS, to become the greenest health service in the world. We will guarantee better conditions for our NHS staff and bring back the nursing bursary. Workers from across the world will always be welcome and pay conditions will be improved. The Tories have cut 1600 GPs, more Drs, more nurses, more support staff…he will call time on the markets and competition, an NHS rebuilt and out of private business hands. Infant mortality has risen 4 years in a row unknown since WW1. Healthier, happier longer lives. Prescriptions will be free for all.

Chaos broke out when the reference back motions were impossible to remember and yet delegates were expected to vote. Conference had already overrun and several of us attempted to make points of order and suggestions. It remains to be seen if this will be resolved by the afternoon session as all the CAC has done so far is to resend the same report they sent us earlier this morning.

Diane Abbott opened the afternoon session and was given a rousing greeting. JC was on the stage again and an OH JC struck up three times.

She said that she owed all her life chances to the Labour Party which led to her becoming the first ever black woman MP. She told BJ that we had nothing to fear from him and to Bring It On!

Then we returned to more referencing back which is showing every chance of becoming as confused as this morning.

Monday, 23 September.

The morning began with an emergency motion on Rape and supporting survivors, which was debated later in the afternoon when many rape survivors shared their experiences. The Scottish Leader, Richard Leonard, gave a rebel rousing speech and declared he was 100% behind J.C. We then had interminable references back that plagued this conference and the CAC will look again at the issues before Liverpool next year.

Finally, we moved on to the New Economy which led us to the speech by the next Chancellor, the brilliant John McDonnell. He was uplifting, thorough and humorous as befits a lad born across the Mersey to Scouse parents even if he did leave his Liverpool home for the South aged 8! He received a thunderous ovation from the whole hall.

The afternoon plenary session was on New Internationalism and Emily Thornbury opened this session.

Again, there were many reference backs about the Indian Army’s inhumane acts in Kashmir and the situation in Yemen.

We finished much later than the timetable suggests.

It must be said that the referencing back does create some difficulties for the people chairing, usually women and there is a need to bring the Conference into the 21st century.

The Brexit debate and voting seemed to involve an inter Union struggle and arguably should have been by card ballot. I was told that would have exposed the position of the two Unions, but I very much doubt it would have changed much.  The debacle and whispering on the platform led to us looking very chaotic and unprofessional.

Tuesday 24 September, the Supreme Court Decision!!!

The day began quietly enough and Becky Long-Bailey was giving her speech on the new Green Revolution and the “luxury” this would deliver to us all in our daily lives. Jeremy seemed somewhat distracted and there were whispered messages passing along the top table. Becky finished her speech to rapturous applause and hugs from Jeremy and John, then the Leader addressed the Conference and comrades you know the rest. Jeremy’s speech was moved to late afternoon that day so that he and the Cabinet could return to Westminster. It ended with a hear warming and comradely show of solidarity from the front bench.

Wednesday 25 September.

Well of course it was an anticlimactic end to Conference. Most delegates turned up and we concluded the unfinished business of the previous day.

It closed at 12, when we would have been packing out the hall for the Leaders speech. It was one of the most memorable conferences of the last decade or so and we all went home tired and relieved, very happy to have been part of history and looking forward to doing our damnedest to get Labour into Government under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn at the earliest opportunity.

I found that as a woman in a wheelchair it was almost impossible to attract the attention of a support steward. Just as the platform couldn’t see us, neither could the stewards.  I spoke to the Labour desk and have been asked to report this.

This will be the fight of our lives comrades and the last chance to achieve a true Socialist Government and get rid of that obnoxious egotist who claims to be the PM of our UK. Come on let’s do it, for our children, their children and ourselves,

We beg you.

 

Fringe meetings at Conference.

The SHA held two successful fringe meetings at Conference this year. The first had two contributions

One was from Jean Hardiman Smith on the potential impacts of future trade deals on the NHS and the wider welfare state.

The next contribution was on Social Care, by Brian Fisher. This explained the current state of social care and went on outline policy development that could transform and improve the lives of millions.

The slides can be found here. SOCIAL CARE- LP CONFERENCE 2019

They are based on data, ideas and slides from Lewisham Social Care Action Group, Reclaim Social Care and the SHA motion on social care.

We are pleased that a composited motion from Reclaim Social Care, similar to the SHA’s motion, was passed at Conference and that Labour’s policy is shifting towards our approach.

We look forward to continuing work in the field.
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One Comment

  1. Clearly, the conference was a huge success. The rule of law is vital for NHS campaigners- if the Tories had managed to get away with the suspension of Parliament for party political advantage then the opportunity for the renationalisation of the NHS would have vanished completely. Democracy is the oxygen of the labour movement and the coup was a massive threat to every authentic socialist.

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