Until you attend an annual Labour Party conference, the crowded density of the bustling occasion is difficult to comprehend. About 13,000 people are crammed into a few hotels then they spill out and about around the conference centre on Brighton seafront.
At every moment, there are more things you want to do than you have time for. Everywhere, there are TV cameras, microphones being thrust at you, and in the milling crowds you will bump into members of the shadow cabinet as they rush from one speaking engagement to the next.
Listening to the media reports at the end of the day is a sobering experience. Clearly, these reporters and commentators have been somewhere else.
Saturday was dominated by Tom Watson. Days later, I was astonished to discover Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was in doubt? Why did no one warn us?
Tuesday was intense. When the Supreme Court ruled Boris Johnson’s proroguing of parliament unlawful, the atmosphere in the hall turned electric.
At a fringe meeting, we discussed with Mary Bousted, co-leader of the National Education Union, whether the Prime Minister had enough self-awareness to resign. We agreed. He didn’t.
Then, almost 24 hours earlier than planned, Jeremy’s speech lit the fuse that had been smouldering all day and sent the enthusiastic delegates away believing in a looming Labour victory.
What mattered most, of course, were the policy commitments. Highlights were a Green New Deal with a 2030 zero-carbon target, John McDonnell’s proposals for a four-day working week, a set of universal basic services and plans for a state-owned pharmaceuticals producer. Included were a new national care service and radical housing plans (here, Guildford delegates were involved in negotiations).
Our three delegates did great work both in and out of the hall. That included negotiation for three and a half hours on housing policy, voting for the various motions, including the one committing the party to a second EU referendum, and attending fringe meetings that would affect Guildford.
Jacob was at fringes on developing rural strategy and policy. Elizabeth, our women’s delegate, was involved in meetings on BAME representation. Nick attended meetings on developing a radical housing policy. Guildford Labour commends them for their hard work, and not just during the five-day conference.
Labour members now have the responsibility of passing these messages on to others with the passionate belief in fairness and equality that frame them.
A difficult task faces us, one we will tackle with enthusiasm. We need to show all the people of Guildford and the villages that Labour offers them the best, most caring future.