Conference Highlights

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A fox in sheep's clothing?

A fox in sheep's clothing?

Queuing for the airport-style security checks to get inside the Brighton conference ring of steel is one of the great seaside pastimes this week. But onlookers were stunned when one VIP was whisked through without even a pause. Who was that man? The answer: Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Fein chief negotiator accused by Unionists of being a senior figure in the IRA.

Meanwhile, attempts to bring an anti-hunting campaigner in a fox costume into the hall ended in the macabre sight of the furry animal being split in two in a failed attempt to get it through the barriers.

No shame

Not content with a stealth tax that relieved journalists of £15 apiece for a copy of the conference guide, the party has found a less subtle way of extracting cash from Fleet Street. E-mails to journalists in the wee small hours yesterday urged reporters to put their hands in their pockets and give a donation to help the party to a third-term victory.

No show

Alan Milburn did a disappearing act yesterday after he was embroiled in a row over criticising those who "scream louder and louder" about Labour's past achievements only minutes after his rival Gordon Brown had done just that.

Apparently his no-show had nothing to do with stoking the flames of the Blair-Brown feud and everything to do with being confined to barracks inside the conference ring of steel because of the anti-hunt protest outside.

No show

The smoke-filled room, once the forum for many a deal during Labour conferences, has been consigned to history. New Labour apparently now does its deals in "smoke-free rooms".

No publicity

Most of us would be glued to the set if we knew the Prime Minister was giving us a mention in his conference speech. Not Nottingham Trent University student Natalie Barney. Despite being mentioned as a success story under the educational maintenance allowance, the 18-year-old did not hear her name. Natalie said: "I was in the opticians when the speech was being read out."

No comment

Amir Khan, Britain's Olympic boxing sensation, wowed many delegates when he appeared at conference backing London's bid for the 2012 Games. In true Muhammad Ali style, the teenage silver medallist floated like a butterfly past questions about whether he voted Labour.

No peeking

A gaggle of topless bathers plunged into the icy waters of the Channel to display their, ahem, full support for fox hunting.

Today's agenda: Morning speeches by Charles Clarke, Education Secretary and John Reid, Health Secretary. Afternoon address by Bono. Speech by David Blunkett, Home Secretary

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