Although Napo is not politically affiliated we keep close links with the labour movement and the Labour Party Conference is a good way to get our message to a wider audience at the same time as making links with others in the movement.
Tania Bassett, Ian Lawrence and myself attended the conference from Monday to Wednesday to capture key speeches as well as fringe events.
Monday saw key speeches from John McDonnell on the economy and Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer on international issues. The conference debated issues relating to Brexit and voted for a policy position that states that a Labour Government would secure a deal to leave the EU within three months and put that deal to the people in a referendum where the choice would be between the deal on offer or to remain in the EU. A further motion reaffirmed the opposition to a “no-deal” or “hard” Brexit. The key question of how Labour would campaign in any referendum was put back to allow a decision to be made at a special conference once the details are known. Contrary to the reporting of these events by some media, this approach was broadly welcomed by delegates.
Tuesday began with a speech by Rebecca Long-Bailey on the environment, energy and culture. There was an air of anticipation in the lobbies as everyone struggled to get enough signal to watch the Supreme Court ruling delivered by Lady Hale. There were almost comical scenes as journalists huddled around my phone to watch the live stream. As the ruling became clear the atmosphere changed from anticipation to action as hurried plans were made and the media stalked anyone they could find for a comment.
In a misuse of standing orders that Napo’s steering committee would frown upon, Jeremy Corbyn announced the ruling to the conference hall and suggested that the Prime Minister “consider his position”. It was also announced that the conference business would be rearranged because the MPs would be returning to Parliament the following day and the Leader’s Speech would be delivered in the afternoon instead.
Napo is a member of the Trade Union Coordinating Group (TUCG), a group of diverse unions working together to amplify each other’s voice in politics.Tania Bassett chaired a fringe meeting organised by the TUCG at Labour Party Conference, which saw several Trade Union leaders and political activists speak about the need to organise members and their involvement in campaigning work.
In all the conference period was quite astonishing in terms of the surrounding events and the resumption of Parliament. Nevertheless much business was done and there are policies which Napo members are likely to support. Thanks to the work of Napo Labour have a long standing commitment to reverse the privatisation of Probation and return all work to the public sector and this was re-stated in the speech by the Shadow Justice Minister, Richard Burgon.
Katie Lomas, National Chair