A group of political friends and I were discussing this yesterday, all of us spread across the party political spectrum. Since, the Labour Party has actually found a security company to do their conference for them. But it was still a fun chat, basically falling into two broad scenarios, which were:
Labour conference going ahead with Showsec and sucking up the fact that GMB, the third largest union in the land, would picket Labour Party conference as a result. We managed to come up with an amazing amount of sub-scenarios that would go along with this one. Imagine if Corbyn decided he wouldn’t cross a picket line and so parked himself and his inner circle right outside the conference security zone – effectively protesting the party for which he is the leader. Even better would have been if Owen Smith did go inside, telling the few who had braved it in that in spite of losing a leadership contest very, very recently, he was the true leader since he was the one inside of conference while Corbyn was out there protesting his own party.
In that instance, you would have had Owen Smith, who was backed by the GMB to be leader, having crossed a GMB picket line to declare himself the leader of the party Corbyn actually is the leader of. All with Corbyn being the guy observing the picket of the union that didn’t want him to be leader anymore. What fun.
However, I think another scenario in which Labour conference didn’t actually happen at all would have been worse. The reason I think this is that for most of the country, party conference season flashes by barely noticed. Some of the more involved and/or older will listen to the leader’s speeches on the news and that’s it. So I think for these people to register that somehow Labour conference couldn’t happen this year for the first time in 101 years (and it didn’t take place in 1915 because there was a war on, in case you were wondering), all because of internal incompetence, would have finished Labour off for the foreseeable future. And by that I don’t mean in a “possibly less than 150 seats at the next general election” sort of way (that’s where they are already) but more like in a Lib Dem sort of a way. The lesson would have been that these guys can’t even organise a conference for their members – how could anyone trust them to run the country?
Financially it would have been a long term disaster if conference had been cancelled as well. Not only would everyone have needed to be refunded this year, the likelihood that anyone would commercially decide to attend, hold meetings, sponsor anything, would have diminished substantially for 2017.
Of course, there was a third scenario, one involving Labour getting the Liverpool police to provide security for an extortionate rate that may have bankrupted the party. Amazingly, we had all agreed that this was far and away the best option of the three.
However, a much better fourth option rode in to save the day, namely finding a security firm to do the conference that no major trade union will picket. Except it turns out they use zero hour contracts. And they provide private services to the NHS.
It must be really hard to organise anything from within the Labour Party these days.