The 2007 Compass National Conference took place at the Westminster Central Hall on Saturday.
Like last year, as someone on the centre left of the Labour party, I found it stimulating and empowering and was glad to participate. The conference also again served to remind people about the politics and philosophy of the late Robin Cook, who is Compass’ political hero.
Below are a few pics and a bit of commentary about the sessions I attended.
After Compass Chair Neal Lawson (pictured above in the first picture of this story) welcomed everyone to the conference, we got to hear from Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis; London Mayor Ken Livingstone; Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti and Frances O’Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (pictured above).
I really, really enjoyed this opening session. As usual, Frances O’Grady pulled no punches with a feisty, tub thumping defence of trades unions’ place in the world and their continuing commitment to international solidarity.
Ken Livingstone was, like always and like Frances – a joy to listen to. Ken is just a superb politician – thoughtful, political and – most importantly – practical. I am really pleased that it’s Ken running our city and not the Liberal Democrats or the Tories. Everyone who supports Ken and our London Labour Assembly Members needs to get out on the streets and campaign for them over the next few months. London can’t risk a Tory or Liberal Democrat Mayor of London or a BNP Member of the London Assembly.
At lunchtime, I popped into quite a few excellent ‘fringe’ sessions, including one on migration with the wonderful Neil Gerrard, MP for Walthamstow (pictured above left). As everyone now knows, Neil won’t be standing again at the next General Election. He will be a hard act to follow and will be sadly missed. As a councillor in the neighbouring constituency (and the same local council) as Walthamstow, I will be following the contest to select Neil’s successor closely. May the best woman win!
After Neil, I then returned to the building’s main hall to watch a bit of the Compass Youth Event chaired by tireless Labour Party, Compass and anti-BNP activist Sam Tarry (pictured first from right).
The Compass Youth Event discussed what different youth movements around the world are doing to mobilise and reenergise political activity amonst the young. Great stuff. Sam and other young Compass activists like Tom Miller, Omar Salem and David Flloyd show what a bright future awaits the Labour party – particularly the centre left of the party – because of their involvement. I’m really glad that Sam, Omar, David and Tom chose to join Labour rather than another ‘left’ political party. They are fab.
Talking of Tom Miller, I then popped into the NUS Fringe on education and marketisation, at which Tom (pictured above centre) was speaking. Mr Miller has long been my favourite blogger – and not because I also went to Manchester University where he’s currently studying. Nope, I just love reading Tom’s fabulous Newer Labour blog and he is just as impressive in person. Mr Miller, I salute you. Long may the musings of Newer Labour reign
Last stop of the conference for me was the fringe meeting hosted by the New Local Government Network (NLGN), chaired by the NLGN’s most lovely Director of Communications, my good friend James Hulme (pictured second from left).
NLGN’s meeting, which was discussing how local councils can play a stronger role in issues relating to migration and climate change, was addressed by another good friend and former Lea Bridge ward local councillor Stella Creasy (pictured first from left); Jane Roberts, former leader of Camden Borough Council and Chair of the Government’s current ‘Councillors’ Commission’; Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Borough Council (pictured far right); and Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham and Private Parliamentary Secretary to local government Minister Phil Woolas (pictured third from left).
It was a thoroughly enjoyable fringe meeting with a high level of debate. Well done to the NLGN for inviting such a fab panel of speakers.
After NLGN’s fringe, I had to rush off to hang out with US political legend the Reverend Jesse Jackson (see the next story for more info) so I didn’t get to see the end of the conference.
Like last year, a huge thanks and praise must go to Compass’ tireless General Secretary Gavin Hayes, Compass’ Chair Neal Lawson and our Campaigns Officer Zoe Williams for keeping the Compass flag flying.
Looking forward to the Compass Conference 2008