My first conference
What a conference! My first - and a pretty good choice. It was great to be there and I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity. I attended the Women's Conference too, a much smaller affair but equally impressive. One slightly twitchy moment was when I was introduced to Yvette Cooper at a reception as someone who only joined the party two years ago. I was relieved not to have to explain further.
Some of my highlights:
- the 16 year old delegate from Manchester who spoke passionately and movingly about the impact of the new GCSEs on her and her classmates. She's called Lauren Stokes and apparently her speech has gone viral. It reflected so much that’s wrong - top-down, untested reforms with no regard for those at the sharp end, and an obsession with targets at the expense of human beings. View Lauren's speech here
- a 79 year old man from Sheffield who spoke to the audience in the overflow room after we'd listened to the Leader's Speech. He said that he'd been a party member all his life, that this was the best Leader's Speech he'd heard, and that it had given him renewed hope for the future. I had a word with him afterwards and he said that he had four children and although he'd tried to persuade them to join the party, they'd never been interested. But now, he said, they'd joined. Renewed hope indeed.
- Jeremy Corbyn's speech - by common consent his best yet. It was great to hear it in real time rather than just the excerpts on news bulletins. I was in the overflow room and after he'd extricated himself from the ecstatic crowds, he came over and spoke to us for another ten minutes.
- Continuing the education theme - Angela Rayner. Her conference speech was excellent and I also went to a fringe meeting on the impact of education cuts. She was hugely impressive, and highly respected by the senior and experienced professionals also on the panel. View Angela's speech below:
There were frustrations, mostly to do with timetabling, time-keeping and fringe events in tiny, airless rooms with massive queues to get in. I missed loads that I’d hoped to go to but having said that, I caught some interesting and thought-provoking fringes, one very useful training event and probably the majority of the main speakers as well as a fair proportion of delegates' speeches. The intricacies of party democracy continue to elude me, although I think I've just about grasped what a composite motion is. But as for the discussion about the official definition of a contemporary motion......
Helen Coll – Wyre Forest Labour
My first conference too
It was my first time at conference, I was taken aback at the levels of enthusiasm and high spirits. The fringe events organised were engaging and thoroughly interesting, with speakers coming from the party, journalists, world figures, and the deputy and Leader's main hall speeches were particularly enticing. To be amongst such excitement, surrounded by MPs that I admire (my personal highlight was chatting to Dennis Skinner about our ever more distant MP for Wyre Forest!) was such a beneficial experience and I would recommend any who hasn't been to think about attending next year.
Ben Davies - Wyre Forest Labour