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Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 10:36 UK

Reds with the blues?

Ian Paul
Ian Paul
Editor, Politics Show South

This week the Politics Show South is taking the second of its looks at the party conferences, and has spent the week following delegates in Manchester.

Richard McKenzie was the Labour candidate in the Henley by election, where he came in fifth place. He's also lost his council seat, been made redundant and chucked out of his own band but is still smiling!

This was supposed to be the week that Labour began its fightback against the Conservatives, and Gordon Brown shored up his position as leader of his party.

Not quite how things turned out.

With southern delegates now back from their sojourn up north, the party seems no closer to answering the question of if and how they can prevent a meltdown of Labour seats here in the south at the next election.

The conference got off to a rather shaky start with a poll of marginal seats suggesting that every Labour seat in our region would be lost.

A cull of ministers (John Denham, Jim Knight, Michael Wills) and backbenchers that would leave the electoral map of the south blue all over, with just a brace of Lib Dems to break it up.

Extrapolating from opinion polls to actual election results is a notoriously risky process of course, but even so, it can hardly have been the most pleasant news to get as the Labour faithful arrived in Manchester.

So that was the background to much of the conference, and the topic of a fair few fringe events.

One of those making the case for the importance of appealing to southern votes was Southampton MP and Secretary of State for Skills and Universities, John Denham.

John Denham MP
John Denham: Labour can win the south

He told Peter Henley: "If you can tackle the south's problems you're also going to tackle the problems in the rest of the country.

"I always say to my colleagues don't think first about the north or Scotland, look at what we need to do to win in the south."

Younger activists' views

Danielle Glavin met with some younger activists from West Sussex to find out what they thought of their leader's speech, "I heart GB badges" and the prospects for their political futures.

She also follows defeated Henley by-election candidate, Richard McKenzie, who has to be the most positive-thinking politician going, as can be seen on Sunday.

The conference was not entirely about introspection.

Gurkhas campaign

Gurkhas campaign
Peter Henley hears the Gurkha case

As part of their campaign for the right to live in the UK, a group of Gurkhas travelled to Manchester to present a petition to the prime minister and stage a demonstration outside the Town Hall - marshalled by Reading West MP, Martin Salter.

In a moving interview Gyanraj Rai told Peter Henley: "We were prepared to die for this country - if we don't get our equal rights maybe we will die ourselves... We will go on hunger strike."

Wish you would hear

Wish you would hear postcard

Why not take your opportunity to have a gripe at, or put a point to the politicians?

You could send them a virtual postcard, and get Peter Henley to deliver it for you.

Each day at the party conferences he will be tracking down the politicians and getting their answers to your concerns.

All the questions and answers will go up on the website, and you can find out more about how you can join in here:

Watch the Politics Show on BBC One at 12.00BST on Sundays.

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