Labour conference diary

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Indy Politics

* How times have changed. Labour officials had to hand out the words to "The Red Flag" to those few delegates still hanging around for the bitter end of conference. In years past any self-respecting party activist would have the words burnt on their souls.

* Talking of "The Red Flag", where was Prezza when the Labour faithful needed him? His rip-roaring calls to arms were the ideal pick-me-up for activists staggering over the conference finishing line with a last-night hangover. This year they had to sit through the limp efforts of Harriet Harman whose laboured jokes about David Cameron and Nick Clegg failed to get them rolling in the aisles.

* Old enemies Charlie Whelan and Derek Draper, who used to lock horns when they worked for Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson, are now bosom pals and working on the Prime Minister's fightback. They were spotted deep in friendly conversation – far cry from the bitter fights of yore.

* Beer was free for tired and emotional wonks at the Institute for Public Policy Research bash. Labour may be behind in the polls, but the party was far from over for the youthful thinkers getting on down to the strains of dance like it's 1999. Mind you, with Gordon Brown fighting off challenges, the choice of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" was prophetic just hours before news of Ruth Kelly's departure trickled out.

* Nice to see spin isn't quite dead. Ruth Kelly said sorry "for departing from my text" and announcing her departure from the Cabinet at conference – before reading out half a page of prepared text.

* Poor old national executive member and local government stalwart Sally Powell, who got into a terrible tizz at the conference podium after some wag stole her speech. "I had a copy of my speech here and somebody has gone off with it," she told delegates yesterday morning. "I'm not quite sure what to do." Conference chairman Ann Black took pity and let her come back later.

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