Labour Party (UK) Conference
The Labour Party Conference, or annual national conference of the Labour Party, is formally the supreme decision-making body of the Party.
In the United Kingdom, each major political party holds an annual party conference during the party conference season. In the Labour Party, Conference is the supreme body, although the party leadership has made clear, particularly in recent years, that it will ignore the conference's decisions where it does not agree; constitutionally, a British government must be free to make decisions on behalf of the whole population and cannot be bound by any private body.
Delegates to the conference are elected by Constituency Labour Parties, affiliated trade unions and socialist societies. Currently, affiliated trade unions hold 50% of the votes at the conference – down from 80% in the era before Tony Blair. Some 40% of the votes are wielded by the three largest trade unions (Unite, GMB, UNISON).
Resolutions for debate are put forward by CLPs and unions before the conference begins. In recent years, party members have had less say in what is debated at the annual conference, as the party leadership has tried to move policy-making increasingly into the new National Policy Forums, which meet in private.
Role of the NEC
The National Executive Committee leads the conference (although the details of the conference, including what is debated, are managed by the Conference Arrangements Committee) and if it does not agree with a resolution, the committee may put pressure on the backers to withdraw or remit it. Remittance means that the resolution's backers agree to "send back" the resolution to the National Executive so that it can consider the matter in more detail; this is viewed by some as a mere delaying tactic. The resolutions voted upon are normally composites, meaning that they have been compiled by combining several resolutions put forward by different bodies into a single wording agreed beforehand.
List of 20th-century conferences
Of the Labour Representation Committee
|27–28 February 1900||London||W. Steadman|
|1 February 1901||Manchester||J. Hodge|
|20–23 February 1902||Birmingham||W. Davies|
|19–21 February 1903||Newcastle||J. Bell|
|4–5 February 1904||Bradford||J. Hodge|
|26–29 January 1905||Liverpool||A. Henderson|
|15–17 February 1906||London||A. Henderson|
Of the Labour Party
|24–26 January 1907||Belfast||J. Stephenson|
|20–22 January 1908||Hull||W. Hudson|
|27–29 January 1909||Portsmouth||J. Clynes|
|9–11 February 1910||Newport||J. Keir Hardie|
|1–3 February 1911||Leicester||W. Robinson|
|24–26 January 1912||Birmingham||B. Turner|
|29–31 January 1913||London||G. Roberts|
|27–30 January 1914||Glasgow||T. Fox|
|26–28 January 1916||Bristol||W. Anderson|
|23–26 January 1917||Manchester||G. Wardle|
|23–25 January 1918||Nottingham||W. Purdy||Conference adjourned and then resumed in London 26 February 1918|
|26–28 June 1918||London||W. Purdy|
|25–27 June 1919||Southport||J. McGurk|
|22–25 June 1920||Scarborough||W. Hutchinson|
|26–29 June 1923||London||S. Webb|
|7–10 October 1924||London||R. MacDonald|
|29 September-2 October 1925||Liverpool||C. Cramp|
|11–15 October 1926||Margate||R. Williams|
|3–7 October 1927||Blackpool||F. Roberts|
|1–5 October 1928||Birmingham||G. Lansbury|
|30 September-4 October 1929||Brighton||H. Morrison|
|6–10 October 1930||Llandudno||Susan Lawrence|
|5–8 October 1931||Scarborough||S. Hirst|
|3–7 October 1932||Leicester||G. Lathan|
|2–6 October 1933||Hastings||J. Compton|
|1–5 October 1934||Southport||W. Smith|
|30 September-4 October 1935||Brighton||W. Robinson|
|5–9 October 1936||Edinburgh||Jennie Adamson|
|4–8 October 1937||Bournemouth||H. Dalton|
|29 May-2 June 1939||Southport||G. Dallas|
|13–16 May 1940||Bournemouth||Barbara Gould|
|2–4 June 1941||London||J. Walker|
|25–28 May 1942||London||W. Green|
|14–18 June 1943||London||A. Dobbs|
|11–15 December 1944||London||G. Ridley|
|21–25 May 1945||Blackpool||Ellen Wilkinson|
|10–14 June 1946||Bournemouth||H. Laski|
|26–30 May 1947||Margate||P. Noel-Baker|
|17–21 May 1948||Scarborough||E. Shinwell|
|6–10 June 1949||Blackpool||J. Griffiths|
|2–6 October 1950||Margate||S. Watson|
|1–3 October 1951||Scarborough||Alice Bacon|
|29 September-3 October 1952||Morecambe||H. Earnshaw|
|28 September-2 October 1953||Margate||Arthur Greenwood|
|27 September-1 October 1954||Scarborough||W. Burke|
|10–14 October 1955||Margate||Edith Summerskill|
|1–5 October 1956||Blackpool||E. Gooch|
|30 September-4 October 1957||Brighton||Margaret Herbison||Aneurin Bevan makes a speech disavowing unilateral nuclear disarmament claiming that it will send the government "naked into the conference chamber"|
|29 September-3 October 1958||Scarborough||T. Driberg|
|28–29 November 1959||Blackpool||Barbara Castle|
|3–7 October 1960||Scarborough||G. Brinham|
|2–6 October 1961||Blackpool||R. Crossman|
|2–5 October 1962||Brighton||H. Wilson|
|30 September-4 October 1963||Scarborough||D. Davies|
|12–13 December 1964||Brighton||Anthony Greenwood|
|27 September–October 1965||Blackpool||R. Gunter|
|3–7 October 1966||Brighton||W. Padley|
|2–6 October 1967||Scarborough||J. Boyd|
|30 September-4 October 1968||Blackpool||Jennie Lee|
|29 September-3 October 1969||Brighton||Eirene White|
|28 September-2 October 1970||Blackpool||A. Skeffington|
|4–8 October 1971||Brighton||I. Mikardo|
|2–6 October 1972||Blackpool||A. Benn|
|1–5 October 1973||Blackpool||W. Simpson|
|27–30 November 1974||London||J. Callaghan|
|26 April 1975||London||F. Mulley||Special Conference on the Common Market|
|29 September–October 1975||Blackpool||F. Mulley|
|27 September-1 October 1976||Blackpool||T. Bradley|
|3–7 October 1977||Brighton||Joan Lestor|
|2–6 October 1978||Blackpool||Joan Lestor|
|1–5 October 1979||Brighton||F. Allaun|
|29 September-3 October 1980||Blackpool||Lady Jeger|
|27 September-2 October 1981||Brighton||Alec Kitson||Minute's silence at the Conference in memory of Bill Shankly, former Liverpool FC manager and lifelong Labour supporter, when news of his death was announced|
|27 September-1 October 1982||Blackpool||Dame J. Hart|
|3–8 October 1983||Brighton||S. McCluskey||The editorial board of Militant are expelled|
|1–5 October 1984||Blackpool||Eric Heffer|
|29 September-4 October 1985||Bournemouth||A. Hadden||Leader Neil Kinnock attackes Militant and their record in the leadership of Liverpool City Council leading to a walkout led by Eric Heffer|
|28 September-3 October 1986||Blackpool||N. Hough|
|27 September-2 October 1987||Brighton||S. Tierney|
|2–7 October 1988||Blackpool||Neil Kinnock|
|1–6 October 1989||Brighton||D. Skinner|
|30 September-5 October 1990||Blackpool||Jo Richardson|
|29 September-4 October 1991||Brighton||J. Evans|
|27 September-2 October 1992||Blackpool||T. Clarke|
|26 September-1 October 1993||Brighton||D. Blunkett|
|3–7 October 1994||Blackpool||D. Blunkett|
|29 April 1995||London||G. Colling||Special Conference on the Party Constitution|
|2–6 October 1995||Brighton||G. Colling|
|30 September-4 October 1996||Blackpool||Diana Jeuda|
|29 September-3 October 1997||Brighton||R. Cook|
|28 September-2 October 1998||Blackpool||R. Rosser|
|27 September-1 October 1999||Bournemouth||Brenda Etchells|
The 2004 party conference was held in Brighton during the final week of September. Conference rejected a call for withdrawal from Iraq, but accepted a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways; the leadership declared that it would ignore this. The conference received some international glamour when it was addressed by the Irish rock star Bono who called for more action to combat the spread of AIDS and the debt crippling African countries.
Over 600 people were held under the recent terrorism acts, including Walter Wolfgang an 82-year-old refugee from Nazi Germany who was arrested for attempting to re-enter the conference without a pass. None was subsequently charged.
In 2006 the conference was held in Manchester at the G-Mex and Manchester International Conference Centre from 24 to 28 September. It was the first time in 50 years the main Labour conference was not held at a seaside town and the first time since 1917 the Labour conference had been held in Manchester. This followed Labour's Spring 2004 conference which was held at the G-Mex for the first time. The conference was Blair's last as leader after he stated this would be the case just before the conference and at the conference itself. The start of the conference was marked with protests against the Iraq War.
The conference was addressed in a joint session by Labour's Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone and the Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa on the subject of climate change. Bob Geldof and Monica Naggaga from Oxfam (Uganda) spoke together about the plight of Africa. The main international guest speaker was the former US President Bill Clinton. Another international visitor – but not a speaker to the conference – was Shimon Peres, the former Prime Minister of Israel.
St Johns C.E. Primary School's steel band also performed there before Tony Blair came on stage.
The 2007 conference was held in the Bournemouth International Centre from 23 to 27 September. The conference was the first with Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister, and he laid out his plans for his premiership.
The 2008 conference was held between 20 and 24 September in Manchester at Manchester Central (formerly G-Mex). The opening day of conference was moved from Sunday to Saturday to allow people who work during the week to attend. The Labour leader and Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, delivered his keynote address on 23 September.
The 2009 conference was held in Brighton from 27 September to 1 October 2009. It is noted for a particularly impassioned address from Peter Mandelson given on 28 September in which he claimed that Labour was in "the fight of our lives" as the forthcoming general election approached. Gordon Brown gave his keynote address to the conference on the afternoon of 29 September, saying that Labour was "not done yet". Shortly afterwards Britain's biggest selling newspaper, The Sun announced that it would withdraw its support for the Labour Party and gave its backing to the Conservatives. Union leader and Labour supporter Tony Woodley responded to this by tearing up a copy of that edition of The Sun, telling the audience: "In Liverpool, we learnt a long time ago what to do. I suggest the rest of the country should do exactly the same thing"; in reference to the hostility felt in Liverpool towards The Sun newspaper following its controversial allegations about the behaviour of Liverpool FC supporters during the Hillsborough disaster 20 years earlier. The speech was Brown's last Autumn Conference address as Labour Leader.
The 2010 Conference took place between 26–30 September 2010 at Manchester Central Conference Centre. The conference started with the announcement of the results of the 2010 leadership election and was Ed Miliband's first conference as leader. In his first major speech as leader on 28 September, Miliband told delegates that his "new generation" would return the party to power. The following day David Miliband announced he would not be serving in his brother's shadow cabinet, although he would continue as an MP. Other highlights of the conference included activists condemning the coalition government's proposed public spending cuts as "obscene" on 27 September, and a close of conference address from Harriet Harman in which she told delegates that Ed Miliband would "fortify" the party.
The 2011 Conference took place in Liverpool from 25–29 September. It was the first time since 1925 that Labour had held its Annual Conference there. On 26 September delegates voted to scrap the tradition of Shadow Cabinet elections. Ed Miliband's keynote speech on 27 September suffered a five-minute blackout after all media communications were lost.
The 2012 Conference was held in Manchester from 30 September–4 October at Manchester Central Conference Centre. Labour Leader Ed Miliband's speech was the first by a Labour leader in around twenty years to be delivered without the use of an Autocue, enabling him to walk up and down the stage during his speech while maintaining eye contact with his audience, replicating the style of David Cameron in 2005 when running for leadership of the Conservative Party.
2014 London (Special Conference)
A special conference was held at ExCeL London on 1 March to approve rule changes arising from former general-secretary Ray Collins review of party reform. The changes included replacing the electoral college system for selecting new leaders with a "one member, one vote" system. Mass membership would be encouraged by allowing "registered supporters" to join at a low cost, as well as full membership. Members from the trade unions would also have to explicitly "opt in" rather than "opt out" of paying a political levy to Labour.
The 2014 Conference was held in Manchester from 21–24 September at Manchester Central Conference Centre. Ed Miliband was criticised by his own colleagues for failing to mention the deficit and immigration in his Conference address, despite having promised to do so in his pre-speech press release. It was Miliband's last Autumn Conference address as Labour Leader.
The results of the leadership and deputy leadership elections were announced prior to the Annual Conference on 12 September at a special conference. The 2015 conference took place in Brighton between 27 September and 30 September. The new Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, reinstated the use of the Autocue, three years after it had been abandoned by Ed Miliband. It was the first time that Corbyn had used one to deliver a speech.
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The 2016 Conference took place at ACC Liverpool, it started on 25 September and will run until Wednesday 28 September. The result of the Leadership election 2016 was announced the previous day with Jeremy Corbyn being re-elected.
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- Welcome to Annual Conference
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