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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 February 2007, 16:17 GMT
Are you sitting comfortably?
Guto Thomas
By Guto Thomas
BBC Wales political correspondent

Welsh Labour conference
Not quite as tall as it might be: Welsh Labour's top table
Saturday, 24 February

Viewers of the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno may have been confused at the apparent lack of stature of Welsh Labour's leading lights.

The select few who made it onto the top table on the conference stage appeared to have lost at least a few inches in height.

In fact, some of the more unkind

comments heard around the venue suggest that they looked collectively like pygmies.

The party leadership must hope that this kind of image problem is addressed with urgency before May's elections.

The mysterious case of the disappearing chairs deepened at this morning's session.

Whole rows of seats once again went missing, endangering the posterior comfort of delegates ahead of Rhodri Morgan's crowd-drawing speech.

There were the usual rumours that the Labour leadership didn't want to show empty seats on the live TV coverage.

But surely this can't be true - because if they couldn't ensure a decent turn-out for their own conference then what that would say about their lofty election hopes?

Welsh Labour delegates in Llandudno
Delegates listen from the comfort of the remaining conference chairs

The conference ended in harmony with plenty of time to spare before the big Six Nations match in Paris.

Just minutes after Mr Morgan's high-speed 28-minute speech, conference chairman Tecwyn Thomas brought proceeding to close by inviting delegates to sing the Red Flag.

And for potential future Labour leadership watchers there was a clear sign that Environment Minister Carwyn Jones may be leading the chorus.

Mr Jones was put on the spot by being asked to lead delegates in singing the old Labour anthem. The danger of being placed in such a vulnerable position is most obviously illustrated by the memory of Conservative former Welsh Secretary John Redwood's attempt to sing another old anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Mr Redwood's performance led to everlasting ridicule. But Mr Jones got through it unscathed.

As all the delegates raced home, it appeared that his leadership hopes remain in tune.

There's no doubt about it. Delegates will be united on the question of the highlight of this conference.

Yesterday's farewell speech from Tony Blair paled into almost total insignificance when the chair of the party's standing orders committee gave his valedictory speech after 21 years in the job.

Mike Jeffries is renowned within the party for his stand-up comedian approach to conference rules and regulations. Every year his speech is one of the few that tired and emotional journalists actually look forward to hearing.

And today's - broadcast live on BBC Two Wales - was no exception.

In the political equivalent of Life on Mars, he recalled conferences past where delegates had discoed while more than slightly inebriated (although he used more concise and colourful vocabulary).

In particular, he recalled one year when one of the delegates was found dead on the dance floor.

Neil Kinnock, he said, told him to remove the body as quickly as possible before the party's fund-raising guru Anita Gale "raffled him off for compost".

Yesterday Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said how fortunate it was that Wales doesn't produce clones as politicians.

The Welsh media hopes against hope that in this special case Mr Hain will be proved wrong.

Conference cuppa dissent brewing
23 Feb 07 |  Wales politics
Wales@Westminster newslog
21 Sep 06 |  Wales politics

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