Martin Bright

A Bargain Ringside Seat to History

A Bargain Ringside Seat to History
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Apparently the Labour Party is selling tickets to sit behind Gordon Brown during his leader's speech for a bargain £130 a pop. At the same time they are struggling to fill the seats for their gala fundraising dinner in Brighton. Things are getting desperate. Already, last year in Manchester, the exhibitors' hall was dominated by Labour associated organisations and unions. The corporate world abandoned the party long ago.

The interviews in this morning's papers show a new change in the political weather. Ed Balls continues his charm offensive and even borrows the rhetoric of Peter Mandelson's "fighter not a quitter" speech as a rallying call for the party. (I'm not sure it's a great idea to evoke the image of that toe-curling moment though). 

Meanwhile, Alan Johnson has made it clear that he has not ruled himself out as a future leader. And John Prescott has been wonderfully frank about the crisis in the party in The Independent.

A former Labour minister sent me a text on Thursday saying he was "disappointed" by my piece in The Spectator last week saying that no one in the Labour Party seriously believes the next election is winnable. But he didn't say he disagreed.

Each Labour conference has its own special atmosphere. Bournemouth 2007 was the "Moonie" conference, all cultish grins and tragic misplaced hope ; Manchester 2008 was the "Moody" conference, with a brooding, bullying nastiness everywhere you went. It's impossible to know how this year will feel until I get there, but the interviews this morning make it an enticing prospect.

If I was a member of the Labour Party I'd pay that £130 for a ringside seat. It could be very interesting indeed.