Alongside my colleagues in the MU Government Relations & Public Affairs team, Isabelle Gutierrez and Maddy Radcliff, I have worked all week at the Labour Party Conference in the Brighton Centre. This is the first time we have organised a stand at the event and our facilities proved popular with MPs and delegates alike. Our colourful and eye-catching wall designs, our industry ‘wheel of fortune’, the ‘flightcase of joy’ containing numerous prizes and merchandise, plus our bottles of water with customised labels and dedicated cotton bags consistently generated attention for all four days the exhibition was open.
We welcomed a considerable number of MPs to the stand, including Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Chris Bryant, plus Jo Stevens, Luciana Berger, Wes Streeting, Lyn Brown, Sharon Hodgson, Rupa Huq, Daniel Zeichner, John Healy and MU member Kevin Brennan. We were also delighted to meet London Labour MEP Mary Honeyball and TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.
Our collective thanks go to our neighbours in the exhibition, the TUC, the BBC and Royal Mail, all of whom offered support and their own facilities where appropriate. In particular Vanessa Elliott – Head of Public Affairs at the BBC – who gave me a toy model for my son Ben and the Royal Mail who created a set of official stamps featuring a photo of our team.
On the Sunday evening we attended the MU sponsored Welsh Labour event in the Hilton Metropole, at which The Hennessys delivered their usual stirring set of Welsh anthems and tunes. Before the band could get into their stride though, there was a parting in the crowd as a flank of film crews accompanied newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson to the stage. They both gave crowd-pleasing speeches before being hustled away – presumably to their next engagement – by their PR escorts.
I also briefly attended the fringe event being hosted by UK Music on Monday afternoon in the Cambridge Room at the Hilton Metropole, entitled ‘Arts, Culture and Creativity after the election.’ Chaired by Jo Dipple, of UK Music, the speakers included John Kampfner (Creative Industries Federation), Katja Hall (CBI), James Heath (BBC) and special guest DCMS Shadow Secretary Michael Dugher MP.
The MU delegation of General Secretary John Smith, EC Chair Kathy Dyson, Tom Edwards, Andi Hopgood and Barbara White were supported by MU Assistant General Secretaries Horace Trubridge and David Ashley. On Monday afternoon Horace had a very fruitful hour-long meeting with Shadow Culture minister Michael Dugher MP. While a landmark moment took place on the Tuesday of Conference, with a motion in support of the BBC being proposed (and subsequently carried), by the MU, in partnership with our colleagues at BECTU.
I dropped in at a packed Hilton Metropole bar on the last night and spent an enjoyable hour in the company of MU members Billy Bragg and Tom Tyler of Bloombergs. All in all, a very successful few days and I look forward to being involved at the Conference in 2016.