Labour Conference: From The Floor: Tony's message was just for me

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You might have not have noticed, but Tony was talking directly to me yesterday afternoon. It all started on Monday night when I was instructed not to write these seditious pieces, and this before a single word had appeared.

But don't blame the messenger - a hard-working party official - the shadows in this place can get to you. And we do know that the spinners are too clever ever to do their own dirty work.

It was not an official party instruction just an official local one. In fact, when I finally got to ask a party official if I was being told not to write for The Independent, I was told I would not be furnished with the material to hang them.

This might be a good point to re-assure them that I love the Labour Party, if I didn't I wouldn't have stood - unsuccessfully - as a county councillor on 1 May; I would not have delivered 3,000-plus pieces of election material and I wouldn't spend most of my free time on unpaid party business.

But back to Monday night when after a great day with my party, I was told that I could not write. So I sought out party regional officers and told them I was on the verge of resigning from the party I discovered in 1974 and to which I have been loyal every day since.

It took until the next morning to be told that all I had to do was write a letter of resignation and leave. Foolishly I had expected at least a "that would be a shame".

This country wants, needs and deserves a Labour government, but and surely it doesn't need to tell its members to be happy clones who are either to speak on message or learn to say no comment.

This whole sorry story started at a delegates' briefing last week, where I was advised that when in Brighton I should not only not say anything negative to the press - those evil twisters - but should not be critical in conversation with my fellow delegates when in public in case a journalist might hear!

Naively I spoke up and admitted that I was one of those evil creatures and said that this very tactic of silence makes the press even more hungry and the people suspicious.

Yesterday morning, after my first article appeared in this newspaper - light-hearted and innocuous, I thought - I was invited to attend a "wide ranging tete-a-tete" with the spin-doctors. It is an invitation that is yet to come to fruition, but I still hold out hope that I may get the chance of being Mandelsoned.

If it hadn't been for the tears and hugs of enraged fellow delegates on the floor of conference yesterday I may have been on the last train out of town.

And then came Tony's vision of not new Labour, not old Labour but just Labour. I could be mistaken but I took it as his telling me there was a place for me. All that I know for certain is that I intend to continue exercising my right to free speech.