Sunday 26 September 2010

Arrival in Manchester

Some of my friends complained to me afterwards that it was delivered like the results in X-Factor. They had made their way to Manchester to hear the result of the Labour Party leadership, but in the conference hall the announcement was dragged out. It was almost five o’clock before the crescendo was reached – and all the other “contestants” had been “voted off” that Ed Miliband was proclaimed as the new Labour Party leader.

I had already arrived in Manchester, having spent most of the day with my Open University students preparing for their forthcoming exam. The train from Milton Keynes had arrived at Manchester Piccadilly and I had taken a taxi to my hotel. Whilst checking on, the final moments of the leadership election played out on the TV in the adjacent bar.

Half an hour later I was in the conference centre listening to the accounts of friends who had spent the afternoon in the Hall. The first reception began at 6pm, hosted by the European Commission. It was an interesting reception. We were addressed by the Head of the Commission’s office in London and the leader of the Labour group in the European Parliament. Some interesting conservations with people working with the European institutions.

The second big event saw the arrival of the new leader. Ed Miliband was touring the various receptions – and the European Parliamentary Labour Party reception in the Midland Hotel was packed. He spoke about the challenge ahead – and paid tribute to the candidates he had competed with for the last four months. I had the opportunity to congratulate him in person as he worked his way around the room. The evening was also a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends: meet interesting new people and most of all to discuss the significance of political developments.

I was back at the hotel at a reasonable hour. I’m posting this at a local wifi hotspot – and look forward to updating you as the Annual Conference opens this afternoon.