Conference diary

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Indy Politics

THE OUTLOOK - RAIN

The skies above Manchester unleashed a downpour for the start of conference. Delegates trooped in bedraggled and John Reid, the Home Secretary, was cut off in mid spout by a clap of thunder that severed his TV feed.

GIANT RED WOODS

The people's flag is deepest - green. Environmentally-minded activists are urging delegates to buy a commemorative conference tree (at £25 a pop) to off-set the CO2 pumped out by Labour's week in the North. They want to plant five socialist woods across the country, including the Robin Cook memorial wood in Livingston and the Keir Hardie memorial wood in Porthkerry.

PASS THE BUNGLE

Chaotic scenes opposite Granada Studios where delegates were struggling with lengthy queues to pick up conference passes that should have been posted out days ago. Having been told there was no late accreditation, they turned up to hear that the party's pass printer had gone west. Among those waiting to get into the secure zone to check into a hotel were an annoyed looking Amanda Platell of the Daily Mail and Treasury special adviser Jo Dipple.

BACK TO THE SEASIDE

Just as the Labour faithful were relaxing at the thought of not being in windswept Blackpool for their conference, Tony Blair throws in an alarming legacy. "I have many happy memories of Blackpool, which has been our traditional venue in the North-west," he lied, before striking fear into many a heart by declaring: "I am sure that we will return there before long."

It was all very heartening for the lonely soul on the Blackpool stand, which is emblazoned with glossy computer graphics showing how the old place might look if they ever allow them to build a supercasino there.

HOIST THE LANYARD

The GMB union is doing a roaring trade in handing out lanyards for conference passes in deepest socialist red. They replace the official white ones, sponsored by Sky News, whose owner Rupert Murdoch is still a hate figure for many Labour activists. The GMB has produced 5,000 - and had given away more than half before conference even started.

BAD DAY

The BBC, who have been bombed by the birds living in the rafters above their temporary office. One computer had already been put out of action by a "message" from above.

GOOD DAY

Manchester, which is hosting the conference for the first time in 89 years . Richard Reese, leader of the city council, welcomed the party back but asked: "What took you so long."

JOKE OF THE DAY

Hazel Blears said Manchester had "two fantastic football teams: Manchester City and Manchester City reserves".

TODAY'S AGENDA

AM: Speeches by Alistair Darling, Trade and Industry Secretary, and the Chancellor, Gordon Brown. PM: Speeches by John Hutton, Work and Pensions Secretary and Jack Straw, Leader of the Commons.

6pm: The Independent fringe meeting: How does Labour win a fourth term? With Jack Straw, Peter Hain and Charles Clarke.

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