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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Conference diary: Tuesday
BBC News Online's Nick Assinder takes a look at some of the highlights - and low moments - of Labour's annual conference at Brighton.

Tuesday, 28 September


This is the winner by a country mile - the Labour party steward who banned the League Against Cruel Sports from selling, or even giving away, their fox glove puppets.

LACS puppet
The "provocative" puppet
According to the steward, people might take them out into the street and start waving them at the Countryside Alliance protesters besieging the conference.

This, he claimed, would be provocative and risk inflaming the already-sensitive situation.

So Basil was barred under threat of being thrown out of the conference centre - presumably onto the streets and into the arms of the waiting pro-hunting demonstrators.

Leaving aside the fact that anyone who tried taunting the hunters with a glove puppet would risk getting their hands torn off by bloodthirsty hounds, this spectacular piece of "I'm only following orders" nonsense succeeded in winning the League the sort of publicity money can't buy.


Junior health minister John Hutton got a bit carried away at a fringe meeting discussing a possible ban on smoking.

Yes, he joked, let's ban everything, Let's ban this, that and the other.

"On second thoughts, let's not ban the other."

Oo, er, minister. Anyway, I thought Tony Blair had already banned that - just ask Robin Cook.


Talking of banning smoking, Health Secretary John Reid has been locked in his own personal battle with the demon weed.

Presumably, as he also gave up the booze years ago, that explains why he is always so bad tempered.

However, one eagle eyed observer claims to have seen him standing on the pavement outside the back entrance of the conference centre having a shifty fag.

Friends of the health secretary claim this is rubbish, which has raised the even more worrying prospect that there is a John Reid look-alike stalking Brighton.


Comedian and wonderful grumpy old man Arthur Smith delighted an audience at a fringe meeting by the Countryside Agency with sneaky jibes about county versus city living.

Top joke was probably: "If you are sick of London you are sick of life. If you are sick of Berkshire, you've been there more than 10 minutes."


This dubious honour must go to the delegate who booked into his hotel, left for the conference and promptly forgot where he was staying.

All he could remember was it was named after a bird.

After a fruitless and expensive taxi tour of suitably named guest houses - the Dove, the Swallow etc - he failed to recognise his accommodation and gave up.

In desperation he then visited the local tourist information office and asked them if they had a list of hotels - presumably by species.

And sure enough, there it was, near the bottom of the list. The delightfully named Sandpiper.


Apparently Welsh assembly leader Rhoddri Morgan was pitched into a blind panic when he discovered, just before his big conference speech, that he had left his lucky charm at home.

What could be done? Aides scratched their heads - should they organise an emergency flight or courier service?

Nothing, apparently, was possible in the short time available, so he had to make his speech without his talisman.

And what is this charm that has brought him so much luck in the past that he goes nowhere without it - a bracelet, a rabbit's foot, a St Christopher?

In fact it is not an "it" at all, it is a "them" - in the shape of a well-worn pair of shoes.

Whether he then delivered his speech barefoot is an unanswered question.


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