This morning, Labour’s conference gave another indication that its patience with party managers’ manipulation is running out. We reported the noisy dissatisfaction on Sunday with the railroading of Refounding Labour. This morning, they clearly resented the further gagging of those constituencies who proposed a rule change 18 months ago designed to prevent the “parachuting‟ of Parliamentary candidates into safe Labour seats.
Martin Mitchell, the delegate from Blackpool South, asked why they had been prevented from exercising their right to move the rule change; what rule said you couldn’t move a change to one part of the rules just because a completely different part of the same clause had been amended on Sunday. He didn’t move reference back of the conference arrangements report — he knew that trade union delegates rarely vote to overturn those reports. However, when the chair asked for approval of the conference arrangements report, hands were slow to rise in favour, but a forest of hands rose against. Again, the vote was surprisingly close — perhaps 2 to 1 — and the chair refused loud demands for a card vote.
There is undoubtedly a dramatic shift at Labour’s conference. Delegates are showing a level of independence of thought and action not seen since for 20 years. They clearly want their voices to be heard as Ed Miliband promised they would. Party staff do continue to manipulate the agenda and the selection of speakers, but this interference is less widespread than it was. May the trend continue.