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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
My Labour conference diary
While all eyes were on Tony Blair and Labour's other big guns at the party conference this week, what are these events like for ordinary delegates? Sally Prentice, a Labour councillor for Lambeth in London, allows us a peek into her conference diary.


There was a lot of talk about Channel 4's drama The Deal, about the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's supposed leadership pact, which was being shown tonight. But I didn't watch it. It's all been said before; old news. I go to the Progress rally instead, which was chaired by Tony Robinson. It is packed.

Earlier I cast my vote in the contemporary resolutions ballot, which decides which issues will be put to a vote by conference. You get a list of topics and have to choose four yourself. The top four win. I vote for resolutions on Britain's role in Iraq, the Israel-Palestine crisis, pensions and employment rights.


Started early today, with an 8am seminar on child poverty in London. You can tell everyone's a bit slow at this time of the morning, munching on their croissants. It is a bit flat.

I go on to watch a presentation about London's Olympic bid. Steve Cram, the gold medallist middle distance runner, addresses the conference. His speech goes down really well.

Michael Jacobs is standing down as general secretary of the Fabian Society, so I go to a farewell reception for him in the evening. Billy Bragg is the guest speaker. I'm standing for election to the Fabian executive, so it's good to meet everyone.


Today is my big day - I'm addressing the conference. But first I go to an education skills policy seminar and get a chance to press [Education Secretary] Charles Clarke on the fact more should be done for full-time nursery places to help working parents.

You have a lectern to read off and there's no heckling - I see Margaret Hodge clapping me
Sally Prentice on her first conference speech
I'm the third delegate to speak during the education debate and really, really nervous beforehand. But I find it's easier than speaking in the council chamber. You have a lectern to read off and there's no heckling. The speech lasts three minutes and I see [children's minister] Margaret Hodge clapping me.

When that's over I can relax. Activity really picks up in the hall as we await Tony Blair's speech. It's a good speech setting out the achievements, that we must press forward and not make the same mistakes as Wilson and Callaghan.

After that is a debate on amendments to the Labour constitution. I back a change that would allow people in Northern Ireland to join the party. In the evening there's an informal meal for Lambeth members - nice to get a pizza. Then on to a Social Market Foundation reception.


I start at 9.15 with a policy seminar on welfare to work, hosted by Paul Boateng. Then there's the debate on foundation hospitals. I support the principles behind foundation hospitals but accept the policy was not well handled. There are two votes - I support the government in both, but ultimately we lose them.

Michael Foot and Jack Jones
Tribute to two Labour old hands
Later there's an appreciation for Jack Jones [the former union leader] and Michael Foot, both of whom are 90 this year. There are speeches praising them and video tributes.

In the afternoon there's the foreign policy debate. Then I go to the Young Fabians Fringe and then the BBC party, which has some comedians performing. It's so nice to find a bit of humour amid all the serious stuff. Finally, there's the GLA [Greater London Authority] reception. I get to bed at 12.30, having been on the go for 15 hours.


The last day. It'll all wrap up with a rendition of the Red Flag. I'll be honest - I don't know the words. But given my singing voice, perhaps that's not a bad thing. I watch Charlie Falconer tell conference this is the first and last time he will address it as Lord Chancellor.

Everything wraps up at four and I'll be on the train back to London shortly afterwards.

This is the second in a series of diaries from the three main party conferences.


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