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Conference 99 Tuesday, 14 September, 1999, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Labour key figures
BBC News Online offers a quick guide to some of the key figures who are likely to make the news at the Labour Party conference.

Tony Blair

The prime minister has a habit of talking tough at Labour conferences.

It was at a conference, while the party was still in opposition, that he announced his desire to ditch Labour's historic commitment to nationalisation and re-write clause IV of the party's constitution.

So began his quest to modernise the Labour party.

Last year he told his audience that whether they like it or not his government is "New Labour and proud of it". He made it quite clear compromising on modernisation was not an option.

And although the prime minister often lists New Labour's achievements he is never content to rest on his laurels.

He defined last year as a year of challenge - how he'll define the last conference of the millennium remains to be seen.

John Prescott: Conference time crowd pleaser
John Prescott

The deputy prime minister has the reputation of being something of a court jester when it comes to conference time.

In fact Tony Blair himself pointed out last year that Mr Prescott is to the prime minister what the jester wielding a pig's bladder was to medieval kings.

He even takes liberties with the leader, a dangerous game you might think but Mr Prescott is skilful enough to get away with it.

His end-of-conference speech always manages to send Labour delegates home with smiles on their faces as well as putting some fire in their bellies

Both of which are intended to sustain them through another year as the party's hard working foot soldiers.

Mo Mowlam receiving her standing ovation last year
Mo Mowlam

The secretary of state for Northern Ireland is a dab hand at stealing the role of conference darling.

Last year she set a precedent and became the only person to receive a standing ovation when she was not even making a speech.

But the secretary of state has had difficult time over the last 12 months.

She has faced much speculation as to whether she will hold onto her post in the wake of unionist calls for resignation.

And Dr Mowlam has had to make many controversial decisions as the Northern Ireland peace process confronts the possibility of failure but she is still likely to receive a warm welcome from the party's faithful.

Gordon Brown: Unyielding financial restraint
Gordon Brown

The "iron chancellor", as he likes to be known, retains his strict financial discipline even when he heads for the seaside at conference time.

Last year he refused to bend to pressure and release his vice-like grip on public spending.

He told delegates: "Our iron resolution, our prudence for a purpose, is hard-earned and hard won."

And he insisted there would be no quick-fixes, "no U-turns, no left-turns or right-turns".

But this year Mr Brown may have a slightly less unbending approach - the economy did not go into recession, as was widely expected last year, and consequently the government's bank balance is in better shape than was expected.

Jack Straw - lawman
Jack Straw

At conference time the home secretary can be relied upon to outline populist measures for tackling crime.

Last year he announced a blitz on burglaries and called for the assets of criminals to be seized.

He also laid out tough proposals for dealing with asylum seekers - a subject which has been in the headlines constantly over the summer.

Over the last 12 months Mr Straw has also had to deal with tricky decisions, most notably General Pinochet's extradition hearings.

He has also had to deal with the appointment of a new Tory as his shadow.

Ann Widdecombe stole the show at last year's Tory conference. We will have to wait and see if Mr Straw can do the same this year in Bournemouth.

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