Liverpool was sunny, its people friendly and their black cabs were much cheaper then London. Now I’m back from the Party Conference, its useful to review what l got up to other then enjoy Liverpool.
Well l made sure l was on the conference floor when Ken spoke on this battle with Boris, the present incumbent of the London Mayoralty. He made some telling comments; for example, he questioned the moral difference between Boris’s Bullingdon vandalism as a student and the criminality of the rioters? Ken also reminded us of his own reaction to the July 7th bombings when he was Mayor in 2005. At the time he was in Singapore for the Olympic vote, but when he heard about the what was unfolding in London, he just wanted to get back home. In contrast when the riots first kicked off in London, Boris Johnson refused to return immediately, almost having to be dragged back as he tried to convince us from Vancouver that all was well with London.
When Ken was introduced to the floor by Tessa Jowell, she made a very good point; that is, that we must ensure that the contest next May will not just be a contest about celebrity. It must be a campaign about who will be the most effective leader, the most effective Mayor of London during these most difficult of times. She reminded us that competence not celebrity will get young people back to work; competence not celebrity that will build new homes and keep tubes fares down. So we were told in no uncertain terms, the choice before Londoners is one of celebrity versus competency. The Olympics will also provide a huge platform for the new incumbant Mayor on which to stage London to the world. We should not underestimate the importance of 2012 and the implications this has for the incoming Mayor next May. Ken demonstrated great leadership qualities which cut it on the world stage when it came to representing London for the 2012 bid and (sadly) after 7/7. He has a proven track record which will be enhanced on the Olympic platform next year. This is just another reason why he should be Mayor next year.
At conference, I was pleased to be able to contribute to some fringe meetings. The first was the Labour Transport Group meeting ” What Future Airports?” on Monday lunchtime. What ever our position on the future of expansion of airport capacity in the United Kingdom developed during the Party consultation on aviation, we need to revise our national party position on the expansion of Heathrow. This needs to be in line with our Mayoral candidate’s position of no expansion at Heathrow at least and no back door expansion through operational freedom trials either. This would be in line with government policy, but in truth, it is where we are with the public, particularly around the West London suburbs. I let the shadow aviation minister Jim Fitzpatrick know in no uncertain terms that this element of aviation policy had to be resolved by the time of the Mayoral contest next May. Before leaving Liverpool, l was also asked to speak at the Tribune Rally on Tuesday evening. This was mainly as a result of being a regular contributor to Tribune magazine on City Hall affairs and therefore happily took up the offer. Now its not often in life you get 10 minutes of time to speak to an audience about literally anything you think needs saying. So l took the opportunity willingly and chose to speak about the dangerous state of the world economy, and what needs doing like regulating the banks by splitting their retail arms from the casino side of their operations; putting the Tobin tax in place on the volume of transactions in the City of London and down with rating agencies and all they represent. I also spoke about foreign policy and on this front l am glad and proud to see that the Labour Party would recognise Palestine at the UN, if in power right now. As we’ve balls-up our Middle East policies on a number of fronts, it’s refreshing to have got this one right at last. Finally, I didn’t miss the opportunity to give a plug about the importance of the GLA elections next year to the party.