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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
South: What is left in the South..?
Ian Paul
Ian Paul
The Politics Show, BBC South

President Clinton
Even with heavy weight backing, the left are under pressure in the South

So, Tony Blair has had his last conference as Labour leader, Bill Clinton has enthused the faithful, and all the gaffes and analyses are done.

But just where has this week's Labour conference left the party's prospects in the South?

It was the unexpected gains of southern seats from the Conservatives in the south that helped Labour to victory in 1997.

But the recent revival in conservative fortunes has left those seats looking increasingly vulnerable.

We will be talking to one of our local MPs, John Denham, recently tipped for a Cabinet post in any future Brown government, about which direction he thinks the party should now be moving.

The last time Labour held its conference here in Manchester, back in 1917, the political landscape was much clearer.

Labour was on the left, the Conservatives were on the right.

But now, with everyone chasing votes in the centre ground, it is perhaps a little more confused.

Left challenges left

Andrew Smith MP
Andrew Smith is under pressure from all leanings...

It has also meant that Labour has been opened up to challenges from the left - particularly in Oxford.

At the last election, the former Cabinet minister and MP for Oxford East, Andrew Smith, saw his majority decimated - down from over 10,000 to just 963.

That was courtesy of the Liberal Democrats.

But the constituency is also under pressure from various left wing parties, including the Independent Working Class Association, which although it polled badly at the general election does have four local councillors.

Cllr Stuart Craft tells Politics Show South: "The gap between rich and poor continues to accelerate under New Labour.

"The Tories did the groundwork and Labour have built on that, they've carried on much of the same economic policies.

"New Labour are a right wing party in the same vein as Thatcher, they are following the same economists and doing the same kind of damage, increasing the damage, to the working class."

So does the staunchly Brownite MP think that the answer is for the party to move more to the left?

"I don't think it's a question of moving the party to the left or moving the party to the right.

"It's a question, as Gordon Brown set out very clearly in his conference speech, of being rooted in values, of fairness, of community, of mutual responsibility and having the courage to take tough decisions in order to ensure we're providing the quality of services and the quality of life which people need."

Politics on Sea

Bournemouth beach
Summer has gone but the crowds will be back... conference time

Remember to check out the Politics Show South team's special Conference Reports...

We will be bringing you all sorts of snippets of information, gossip and politicking - you can see what we made of the Lib Dems and Labour, and this coming week, we will be doing our fly-on-the-wall act at the Conservative conference.

We want you to join in the discussion by sending us your views on what we have written, or what you think of what has been happening on stage at the conferences.

20:20 Vision

And we will be running the latest in our 20:20 vision series of films - young people presenting their own ideas about how they would like to see the world in 2020.

We would love to give more people a chance to make their own films over the coming months, so if you have strong views about the future of your community and fancy getting them off your chest, why not drop us an e-mail.

Or you could write to us at Politics Show, BBC South, Havelock Road, Southampton SO14 7PU.

This week's film comes from the Bognor and Worthing Fire Cadets.

Meanwhile, join Peter Henley on the Politics Show on Sunday 01 October at 13:35 BST on BBC One.

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Politics from around the UK...

Tory conference at-a-glance
27 Sep 06 |  Politics
11 Sep 05 |  England


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