Conference diary

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Indy Politics

At the family planning stall Cherie Blair showed none of the bashfulness of her youth when she held up a mango-flavoured condom for the cameras. Luckily, the folks at the stall had hidden their collection of dildos before she arrived.

Skinner live and unplanned

Dennis Skinner, the Beast of Bolsover, took the platform by storm with a 25-minute tour de force that wrecked the morning's agenda. He decried the BBC as "the Daily Mail on film", attacked Charles Kennedy as a "school monitor" and declared: "Fight the class war, not the holy war."

Sweet success

Anger boiled over at the New Labour confectionery police yesterday as Eileen Bennett from the union Unison took the podium to complain at her sweeties being confiscated by stewards outside the conference hall. "This is bureaucracy gone mad," she huffed. Debbie Coulter, the conference chairman, came over all old Labour and told her to refer the matter to the conference arrangements committee. Ms Bennett was seen clutching her precious bag of boiled sweeties moments later.

Non-photo opportunity

Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell's camera was seen as the latest security threat, as he took shots of delegates queuing to pick up their passes. The amateur photographer had his camera confiscated by police after stewards demanded to know what he was doing. When the camera was returned, all the photos were deleted. "This is security gone mad. And what's the point?" an enraged Mr Mitchell said.

Accessory of the day

Men are queuing up to express their politically correct credentials (or are too lazy to get a present for their other halves anywhere else) to buy T-shirts from the Fawcett Society declaring "this is what a feminist looks like". Shame they don't have any in pink, though.


Running the Countryside Alliance stand at a Labour conference is a lonely business. To make matters worse some unwelcome night-time visitors left £2,800 worth of damage after they slashed its display. Simon Hart, its chief executive, complained: "Some people here don't want to hear views other than their own." Later, two women and a man were arrested on suspicion of defacing a Countryside Alliance stand at the conference. The green-welly brigade are looking forward to a warmer welcome from the Tories next week.

Dennis Skinner. A loud standing ovation lasting nearly a minute.

Speech rating

JACK STRAW ** on foreign affairs


RUTH KELLY ** on education

Today's agenda

Debate on local government, the environment and rural affairs.

Closing speech by John Reid.