Labour Conference Diary: One Nation? It means more staff and fewer leaflets, says Labour


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Indy Politics

What does being a One Nation party actually mean these days? Wags have suggested that it is just an anagram of "No Etonian". Others have suggested that it has something to do with winning back middle-class votes in the south and in rural constituencies.

At Labour party headquarters, meanwhile, they are interpreting it as meaning fewer leaflets and more staff.

The party is doing its small bit for the unemployment figures with a recruitment drive to double the number of its paid organisers, from 100 to 200, in time for the next election. Four job ads are already up on the party website, seeking organisers for four places where Labour held seats up to the 2010 election. These are part time and modestly paid and past experience suggest they could disappear in a few years, but the combined cost of employing 200 organisers is a heavy one for a party that no longer pulls in huge donations from mega-rich backers.

To help meet the costs, the general secretary, Iain McNicol, is clamping down severely on leaflets and posters. When an unseen visitor shoves an unwanted leaflet through your letter box – that's Two Nations. In a One-Nation world, someone knocks on your door, smiles, and says "Hello, I'm from the Labour Party" and listens patiently as you explain why you can't stand politicians.

Ed begins to feel the love

In the afterglow of Ed Miliband's leader's speech, the stall offering 'I love Ed' cufflinks sold out. That's 15 people somewhere in possession of cufflinks proclaiming their love for their leader. The 12 Che Guevara cufflinks also sold out. Somebody has even paid good money for a pair of 'Old Brownite' cufflinks. It would be interesting who it could be. I am reliably informed that it was not Ed Balls.

Anger as leader's speech loses out to missing April

BBC high-ups were mildly annoyed to get a call on Tuesday evening from Ed Miliband's spinner, Tom Baldwin, complaining that the missing five-year-old, April Jones, had been top item on the 10 o'clock news, as if a child's life mattered more than the leader's big speech. The BBC took revenge by snatching a picture of Baldwin with head in hands while his boss was speaking yesterday, and flashing it up on the 6pm news.

West Coast rail fails to make agenda

Before yesterday's bombshell about the mishandling of the West Coast rail franchise, the rail union Aslef and nine different local Labour parties had all submitted bids to get the railways and who owns them on to the conference agenda. They were all rejected by the Conference Arrangements Committee, which decides what will and will not be discussed, on the grounds they were not "contemporary". With hindsight, not a good call.