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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Conference diary: Thursday
BBC News Online's Brian Wheeler takes a look at some of the highlights - and low moments - of Labour's annual conference at Brighton.

Thursday, 30 September

GHOST STORY OF THE DAY

Home secretaries are often accused of conjuring up bogeymen to justify their more hardline policies.

David Blunkett
Ghostbuster Blunkett
But it seems David Blunkett has a few spooks of his own, closer to home.

Either that, or a very active imagination.

The home secretary is sometimes kept awake at night by strange, ghostly noises and, every now and then, a curious chill descends, he told conference yesterday.

CONFERENCE DIARY

It turns out Mr Blunkett lives in the same London house that his Tory predecessor Michael Howard occupied in the 1980s, and there is still something of the night about the place.

And that weird crying sound? It must be Ann Widdecombe, Mr Blunkett said.

WORST JOKE

David Blunkett in the same speech, attempting a put down of his Liberal Democrat opposite number Mark Oaten.

Mr Oaten told his party's conference last week he would refuse to serve in a Labour cabinet.

Well that's just fine, said Mr Blunkett, because, Mark, the only cabinet you will serve in is a drinks cabinet.

Oh, yes.

CHAMPAGNE MOMENT

This goes to the television journalist, who must sadly remain nameless, allegedly threatened with an anti-social behaviour order by Sussex police.

Our man was feeling rather pleased with himself after winning a bottle of champagne in a fringe meeting quiz and felt like sharing his joy with the world.

Unfortunately, the boys in blue didn't share his glee.

It took some very smooth talking from his colleagues to prevent him from being carted off for a night in the cells, I am told.

HIGH NOON MOMENT

Shades of the OK Coral on the seafront yesterday, as anti-war protesters went on the march, complete with giant banners, effigies of Tony Blair and a mobile sound system strapped to a bicycle.

A group of pensioners from Wales also chose Wednesday to march along the seafront. In the opposite direction.

For a few minutes, the two groups advanced menacingly towards each other.

But just as things looked like they might get ugly, the pensioners dispersed and passed peacefully through the anti-war ranks.

SECURITY STORY OF THE WEEK

The conspiracy theorists could have field day with this one.

Robin Cook, who famously quit the cabinet in protest at the invasion of Iraq, fell foul of security on the first day of conference, when Group 4's scanners flashed up "deny access".

Apparently, the machine did not recognise Mr Cook.

The former foreign secretary later told friends he had no illusions about his looks, but he thought he at least had a recognisable face...





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