Conference is of course a good opportunity for party members to get together, catch up, take stock and generally get a feel for what issues members are interested in and also how to move forward over the next year and on to the next general election.
For me, conference this year needs to be about calling out the government and challenging their policies with Labour thinking and Labour values. There are those that quite rightly criticise party conference season as being a bit outdated and less relevant in 21st century politics due to the ease with which we can connect with people around the country, but maybe that electronic means of communication can be a barrier too. Conference certainly gives me an opportunity to chat to people face to face from all over the country and you really can’t beat the benefits that these chats offer.
One of the Labour party’s biggest criticisms of the Tory-led coalition is that they are ‘out of touch’ with the general public. This is demonstrated in their unrepresentative cabinet of millionaires and white middle aged men. But we as a Labour party need to make sure that we do not get accused of being out of touch as well. We need to be promoting politics as a place for ideas to grow and come to fruition through healthy debate, but not just debate between the political classes – it has to be a debate between everybody. If I want an opinion on the way the NHS is being run in my constituency I can do no better than speaking to local nurses, doctors, patients and service users. Equally, I want to see more people like this from public sector jobs getting involved in politics and having a bigger input into our national decision making process.
I also believe that Ed Miliband and the shadow cabinet can pull together the very wide range of ideas that we have within our party and utilise this to our benefit come election time. Good politics is about listening to differing views and taking on board a range of opinions before making decisions that could affect many people and I believe the same can be said within the party structure too. I believe our common goal in the Labour movement is for a fairer, more equal society.
So conference this year should be our chance to reaffirm our values and move on as a modern Labour movement.
Sadiq Khan is speaking at the Fabian Fringe Spin Alley event at Manchester Town Hall where our panel of top politicos give their spin on the leader’s speech.