The Labour Party in Brighton: On the Front

THE spokesman on European affairs, George Robertson, goes home to his Hamilton constituency beaming. He has sold almost all the 1,000 'Maastricht veteran' mugs produced by the local Dunoon Pottery, and in so doing raised pounds 1,000 for Mencap. The mugs bear a copy of the treaty and Douglas Hurd's words of thanks to those who took part in the debate: buyers include the Labour front bench, Kenneth Clarke, and the Prime Minister (four), while John Birt has also pocketed one. Only Tristan Garel-Jones, the Foreign Office minister who was in charge of Maastricht business, refused one, but he sent a cheque with this note: 'I would like nothing less than a mug to commemorate the Maastricht treaty, but if you'd like to buy one and smash it over (the Labour Euro-phobe) Bob Cryer's head, I would be grateful.'

MARJORIE Mowlam found four smartly-suited men looking rather uncomfortable among the largely female audience for the 'Beyond the nuclear family' fringe meeting. 'Is this,' they asked her, 'the meeting about nuclear waste?'

WATCHING the Northern Ireland debate from the gallery yesterday was a lonely figure wearing the security pass of one of the major unions. This was the Ulster Unionist Chris McGimpsey, a West Belfast councillor and veteran of the all-party peace talks. He detected some hypocrisy in the NEC-backed motion that called for 'dialogue and negotiation' to achieve a settlement, because Labour refused to allow him, and five colleagues (including Reg Empey, the Lord Mayor of Belfast) to attend the conference. The rules - not entirely strictly observed - state that only 'sister parties' not in opposition to Labour may attend. Labour does not, of course, stand in Northern Ireland, where the SDLP is an affiliated party. Calum MacDonald, MP for the Western Isles, who spoke alongside Dr McGimpsey at a fringe meeting, said the ban on the Ulster Unionists was absurd. 'If we call for dialogue, it is inconsistent to refuse to allow them even to listen to our debates'.

CONFERENCE mysteries can now be cleared up. The bizarre grey design at the side of the powder-blue backdrop is not, after all, a map of the Baltic coastline - it is the outline of Labour's red rose emblem. The effect, we understand, is intended to suggest grey clouds fleeing from a clear blue sky - resulting, as Tony Benn despairingly remarks, in the first Tory-blue platform at a Labour conference. And that inspires our winning anagram of the conference slogan, Building For the Future: 'Fight for it, rude unblue]' Reader Penelope Hughes wins a bottle provided by the Scotch Whisky Association.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Sport
footballLive: All the latest from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee