Labour Conference: From the floor: Tony and Peter's religious police would do Iran proud

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The Independent Online
"Education, education, education" whatever became of you? David Blunkett's standing ovation yesterday was by no means unanimous after the opposition to university tuition fees crumbled and, some will say, university students were sold down the river.

My apologies to all the students on whose doorstep I stood and promised that there was no way the party's rank and file would allow a Labour government to charge them. Yes, there were some excellent promises made by the Secretary of State for Education yesterday, things that will give all children a real chance in life, but it left a hole at the top of the education pyramid. I have to say that I was not the only one gagging when Mr Blunkett, living on his ministerial salary, used his children as prime examples of British youth.

I'm not even considering resigning from the party this time; once these sentiments hit the news stand tomorrow Labour may well believe it has enough evidence of real disloyalty to kick me out.

Please Prime Minister, and Secretary of State, stop exploiting children for your political ends. During the leader's speech even an old cynic such as me was enthused; that is until Tony did the "letter" thing. Then came dear sweet Charlie whose address to conference surely deserved a better reward than How Green is my Valley - I know what I would have done with that admittedly great book if it had been handed to me at the age of 11.

But not everybody was unhappy yesterday afternoon. It was a great day for Oxford University as it saw the tirade of brown-nosing by the speaker from Cambridge University go horribly wrong as he ended up opposing the motion he was supposed to support. Meanwhile, we dangerous radicals - the pensioners and me - are locked in a battle to bring down Western democracy - yes we are the anti-Trident lobby, and I am due to propose the abolition motion today.

We make no apology for preferring to see pounds 1.2bn a year for 20 years being redirected from a mostly redundant weapon system to a decent pension for those who protected us in the last war, and schools that don't crumble round the ears of the generation destined to live in the future that we are supposedly protecting with nuclear weapons.

Abolition of Trident has become a cause celebre among the fine ladies of the Brighton Hove & District Pensioners Association, one militant told me: "We fought the last war, we don't want another one. Let's have the money off Trident spent on caring for the human race."

I am not one who is easily intimidated, but Tuesday was the longest day of my life as I dodged party officials angry about this column. Quite an admission for a woman labelled a man-hater by Ayatollah Khomeni, Iran's spiritual leader.

Given the choice of appearing before a judge of the Islamic courts of Iran, or going off into the den of the Mandelteenies, Tehran wins every time. At least with Judge Babai I had an occasional giggle and an unspoken understanding that we were going through the motions. Come back Rafsanjani all is forgiven.

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