Politics: Labour machine gears up for busy week

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The Independent Online
The Labour Party's legendary machine moved into operation with a vengeance at Blackpool yesterday.

While the Tory party press office was unable to say whether or when the normal pre-conference press conference would be held, or not,a Labour press officer was trawling the assembled media, asking for telephone and fax numbers.

At 18.08pm, The Independent's fax produced the first page of a Labour Party press office "Tory Watch", a two-page summary of conflict and contradiction from transcripts of the day's broadcasts.

The brief included quotes from the Labour Millbank Excalibur computer databank, including definitive words of the Tories' previous position on backbench MPs being allowed a Commons free vote on entry into a single currency. Yesterday, the official position was that backbench Tory MPs would be allowed a free, unwhipped vote on a single currency.

But Labour pointed out that Peter Lilley, now shadow Chancellor, had said on 4 May, in a BBC On the Record interview: "I can't really envisage an Opposition not having a collective view on important legislation going through Parliament, for example, to take us into a single currency ..."

It appears the Tory position is that while backbenchers will be allowed a licence to dissent, the Shadow Cabinet will take a united line, opposing entry for at least another five years.