My Week: Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham

The former contender for the post of deputy leader of the Labour Party gives his impressions of the annual conference in Manchester
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Indy Politics


I've been at the Labour Party conference in Manchester since Saturday. I attend a series of fringe meetings and then I chair a refugee discussion about the plight of failed asylum-seekers. Discussions such as this never really occur in the main conference which is why the fringe remains so important. The Independent Fringe which I take part in that evening is one of the highlights of the conference, with about 400 people attending. We discuss progressive tax systems amongst other things and it's very lively. I then go for dinner with Searchlight, the anti-fascist group. I take the Australian Labor Party general secretary with me as he is over. It's good to have him with us; it gives the conference an international element.


I attend the Institute for Public Policy Research fringe and we have a fascinating discussion about finding a fairer tax policy and what we should do about the super-rich. The issues of inequality and fair taxation dominate our discussions. We haven't talked about such issues in the Labour party for 10 years and we're really demonstrating a different way of thinking. I go to watch Gordon Brown's speech. No one expected Sarah Brown to introduce her husband but I think it showed real guts. It is a pivotal moment. His speech is great. He sounds much more emotionally connected to the people's struggle and he adds personal touches. I then go out with some delegates and mates and we're all in very high spirits.


I get on the train back to London in the morning. I spend the whole journey on the phone. I have lots to sort out in my east London constituency. We have a lot of issues surrounding the BNP and we talk about how we can turn the dial up on local campaigning. In the evening I cook a nice meal for me and my 15-year-old son. I get a phone call just before I go to bed saying that it will be announced tomorrow that Labour has had a seven point bounce in the polls, which is great.


Today I'm back to doing the day job: the meat and potatoes of local representation as I like to call it. I spend the day in my office going through mail and catching up on cases. I've been living in a little bit of a bubble for the last week so it's good to be back to normal.


I'm off to the House of Commons today and spend the day catching up, talking to staff and organising my workload. I also put together a few articles for the weekend. In the evening I go out for a few beers with some mates. I need to catch up on some rest after the conference. The conference could not have been better for Labour. We've come back focused. We realise there is no on-off switch that can resolve this current economic hurricane and we're trying to tackle these issues. The only certain thing is that politics is going to be very very uncertain. Don't write us off yet.

......... Interview by Gillian Orr