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UK Politics

Conference Highlights

Party coup

Lieutenants of Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, had a taste of power, if only on the dance-floor, at the Daily Mirror party - the end of conference event when everyone lets their hair down.

There was a brief Blair-Brown rapprochement as Ian Austin, the Chancellor's doggedly loyal spin doctor, boogied with Jo "funky" Gibbons, aide to Cherie Blair, to the sound of The Commitments.

But the Brownites soon dominated the dance-floor, as Ed Balls, the former chief economic adviser to the Treasury, and Sue Nye, the Chancellor's long-serving political secretary, got on down with Douglas Alexander. Onlookers gasped at Dougie's disco technique. "He's the minister for funk," said one admiring colleague. One source boasted: "We may not have taken over the party, but we've taken over this party."

Meanwhile, the Blairites could only muster Ben Bradshaw, the Environment minister, and No 10 spinner Darren Murphy who joined the mosh pit to the strains of Abba, Status Quo and Van Morrison.

Food taster

The kings of old employed food tasters to ensure they would not be poisoned. Not so Tony Blair. He was ordered to sip his water as he brought it into the conference centre alongside Labour's rank and file, who have had to taste their beverages to ensure that they are not bringing noxious liquids into the hall.

Hello hello

Jack Straw laughed off his recent unfortunate handshake with Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, which he blamed on poor lighting at the UN.

Mocking John Redwood in his conference speech, Mr Straw said that he had even shaken the Tory frontbencher's hand "and I could see him".

Heavy metal

Former steelworkers from Redcar on Teesside led a stirring rendition of Labour's traditional anthem "The Red Flag", which for years embarrassed New Labour until it made a return last year. The singers, known as the Heavy Metal Opera, accompanied the opera star Suzannah Clarke.

Blunder of the day

Jack Straw again, who exploded the myth that the European constitution could force the Queen to abdicate.

Blair moment

Singing "Jerusalem" with the steelworkers to close the conference. Unlike John Redwood's famous Welsh national anthem gaffe, he even knew the words.

Brown moment

The party's over for Gordon Brown, who flew from Brighton early to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington.

Quote of the day

John Prescott: "Old Labour or New Labour, real Labour or in Labour, skimmed, semi-skimmed or full-fat Labour. I don't care what you call yourselves as long as you are Labour, as long as you care enough to want another Labour government."