The first main item of business was the Democracy Review on the first morning. CLP delegates wanted this deferred to a later time slot so that we could consider the proposals more carefully but this was not agreed as trade unions voted against this. Voting on the proposals was in eight sections, most of which we voted for, and the whole review was passed.
The next big item was Private Investment and Ownership, introduced by John Healy. This included our motion on housing, which was composited with other similar motions. Chris and Ryan made sure that all our points were included in the composited motion which was overwhelmingly carried. This was followed by the composite motion An Economy for the Many, also overwhelmingly carried. There were emergency motions on Grenfell Fire and Industrial Crisis in the Car Industry, both carried. At the end of this session John McDonnell addressed Conference.
On Tuesday morning we debated constitutional amendments. Most of these had been withdrawn following the Democracy Review, and the only ones carried were to amend Standing Orders for Conference and to remove the one-year waiting period for future constitutional amendments. We decided to withdraw our motion on the election of the General Secretary. This was because it was clearly the wrong time to present it: Jennie Formby had just been endorsed and given a standing ovation, and if the motion was lost another similar motion would not have been admitted for four to five years. We were also concerned about reputational damage to our CLP. Our motion did not have support from the NEC or any of the delegate groupings, and would have been decidedly lost.
Tuesday morning was also the Brexit debate. Delegates had worked for five hours to produce the composite motion which was introduced by Keir Starmer, who was very well received, and the motion was overwhelmingly passed by Conference. The main points are:
- Conference believes that there is no satisfactory technological solution that is compliant with the Good Friday Agreement and resolves to oppose any Brexit deal that would see the restoration of a border on the island of Ireland in any form for goods, services or people.
- Should Parliament vote down a Tory Brexit deal or the talks end in no-deal, Conference believes this would constitute a loss of confidence in the Government. In these circumstances, the best outcome for the country is an immediate General Election that can sweep the Tories from power.
- If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote. If the Government is confident in negotiating a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit from they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.
In the afternoon we heard Emily Thornberry on Security at Home and Abroad before debating emergency composites on Justice for the Windrush Generation and Palestine. Both motions were addressed by many delegates and again overwhelmingly passed.
On Wednesday we heard Jonathan Ashworth on Tackling Inequalities, and debated the emergency motion Build Our Royal Liverpool Hospital which was carried. Dawn Butler addressed conference after this debate. The final item was Jeremy Corbyn’s speech which was received with cheers, standing ovations and singing. Key points from the speech were:
- Making the radical mainstream
- Reiterating our position on Brexit
- Drawing a line under antisemitism
- Maintaining the triple-lock on the state pension, the winter fuel allowance and the free pensioner bus pass
- Covering the childcare costs of all two-, three- and four-year-olds for up to 30 hours a week
- Putting renewable energy and efficiency at the heart of Labour’s offer, committing to ambitious emissions targets and clearly stating that climate change represents the biggest threat to humanity.
In terms of our mandate, we composited and voted for Housing for All, withdrew the constitutional amendment, and voted for the Brexit motion and the Democracy Review. There was no motion on open selection of MPs but the trigger point for reselection (part of democracy review) is better than it was.
We all enjoyed the Conference and worked well together. We attended all sessions of Conference and many fringe meetings.
We would strongly urge that future delegations contain at least one experienced delegate as it was quite a learning experience for us first-time delegates.