I always enjoy party conference, it is always a time to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a long time (often since last years conference) and have some time away from the Westminster bubble. I like to listen to the opinions of a wide range of people that I wouldn’t normally hear. This year’s Liverpool Conference was no different.
Of course this year I went as the Shadow Minister for trains, buses, trams, light rail, cycling and walking. One thing I have learnt is that having such a wide brief means that a lot of groups would like you to come and speak at their fringe meetings!!
It is something that I really do find engaging, as it means you get to talk in a level of detail to industry experts about the issues facing transport.
And I certainly had some interesting discussions at trams fringes, bus fringes and the increasingly popular high speed rail 2 fringes. It was important to hear where the various groups were coming from and what they hoped to see from a future Labour Government. It was also good to be able to say for the first time in public what the initial findings of the Labour Party Policy review were. The Labour Party do want to see a high speed rail go ahead, and we do want to see more local control over local transport planning.
Of course speaking at so many fringe events (I had 6 separate speaking engagements on one day) means I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to see the debates in the conference hall. But I was impressed by the leader’s speech, he certainly spoke out about his vision and what the challenges were that were facing Britain today.
I also listened with some interest to the speech given by the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, I’m also glad that he retained the general thrust of his economic critique, it is clear he has the solutions that will get the British economy moving again.
So we leave Liverpool with a clearer vision of what we have to do next. We are a party of fighters, not quitters and we will continue to fight this ill guided coalition government.