A member of the party’s policy forum, speaking after the session, commented: “I’ve never seen a Q&A so free. I’m used to this slot being stage-managed and controlled.”
He received one of his strongest rounds of applause for his support for Remploy workers facing the sack. He also affirmed his own support for more working-class candidates to be put up by Labour at the next election. This follows a change to the party rules this morning, which gives the Labour national executive committee (NEC) a duty to ensure this.
Highlights also included a question asking Ed to oppose the public sector pay freeze. Unfortunately, no such commitment came from Ed in this respect – although this is hardly surprising.
On Trident, Ed said that Labour would explore the option of the “smallest possible nuclear deterrent” as a cheaper alternative to the current option on the table.
Left Futures contributor Conrad Landin praised Ed for taking the party in the right direction on openness and democracy, but pointed out that the past week at conference had demonstrated that there was still a long way to go. He drew particular attention to the ruling out of constituency motions on railways, and the undemocratic chairing of conference.
Interestingly, Ed did not deny the problems with democracy at conference, and said that he wanted conference to be open and democratic. He said that as “we are not the party of the 1980s”, saying that this showed that we are mature enough to have proper debate at conference.
These comments were welcomed by the Islington North delegation, in view of their motion being ruled out of order earlier this week. They said that they would write to the leader and the conference arrangements committee immediately after conference, to ask how they would ensure that meaningful debate would be guaranteed at next year’s conference.