Labour Party (UK) Conference

Labour Party (UK) Conference

The Labour Party Conference, or annual national conference of the Labour Party, is formally the supreme decision-making body of the Party.

Conference decisions

In the United Kingdom, each major political party holds an annual party conference during the party conference season. In the Labour Party, Conference is the supreme body, although the party leadership has made clear, particularly in recent years, that it will ignore the conference's decisions where it does not agree; constitutionally, a British government must be free to make decisions on behalf of the whole population and cannot be bound by any private body.


Delegates to the conference are elected by Constituency Labour Parties, affiliated trade unions and socialist societies. Currently, affiliated trade unions hold 50% of the votes at the conference - down from 80% in the era before Tony Blair, but still considerable. Some 40% of the votes are wielded by the four largest trade unions (Amicus, TGWU, GMB, UNISON).


Resolutions for debate are put forward by CLPs and unions before the conference begins. In recent years, party members have had less say in what is debated at the annual conference, as the party leadership has tried to move policy-making increasingly into the new National Policy Forums, which meet in private.

Role of the NEC

The National Executive Committee leads the conference (although the details of the conference, including what is debated is managed by the Conference Arrangements Committee) and if it does not agree with a resolution, the committee may put pressure on the backers to withdraw or "remit" it. "Remittance" means that the resolution's backers agree to "send back" the resolution to the National Executive so that it can consider the matter in more detail; this is viewed by some as a mere delaying tactic. The resolutions voted upon are normally "composites", meaning that they have been compiled by combining several resolutions put forward by different bodies into a single wording agreed beforehand.


Many critics argue that the Labour Party Conference has become less democratic in recent years and more like a party rally; some would compare it disparagingly with the American party conventions, which are perceived in the UK in those terms. Others would say that, because divisions in a party are unpopular electorally, it has been to the party's advantage to move disputes behind closed doors; they would also argue that the Labour Conference is more democratic than that of the rival Conservative Party, which political scientists have traditionally perceived as a more "top-down" or hierarchical party than Labour.

ince 1997

1998 Blackpool

[ BBC News Coverage]

1999 Bournemouth

[ BBC News Coverage]

2000 Brighton

The international guest speaker was Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa.

[ BBC News Coverage]

2001 Brighton

The international guest speaker was Gerhard Schröder, the Chancellor of Germany.

[ BBC News Coverage]

2002 Blackpool

The international guest speaker was Bill Clinton, former president of the United States of America [ BBC News Coverage]

2003 Bournemouth

The international guest speaker to address conference was Hamid Karzai, the first President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

[ BBC News Coverage]

2004 Brighton

The 2004 party conference was held in Brighton during the final week of September. Conference rejected a call for withdrawal from Iraq, but accepted a resolution calling for renationalization of the railways; the leadership declared that it would ignore this.

The conference received some international glamour when it was addressed by the Irish rock star Bono who called for more action to combat the spread of AIDS and the debt crippling African countries.

Conference closed with the singing of "The Red Flag" and "Jerusalem".

[ BBC News Coverage]

2005 Brighton

Over 600 people were held under the recent terrorism acts, including Walter Wolfgang an 82 year old refugee from Nazi Germany who was arrested for heckling during the speech of the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw- none was subsequently charged. [ [ Over 600 held under terror act at Labour conference] ] [ BBC News Coverage]

2006 Manchester

In 2006 the conference was held in Manchester at the G-Mex and Manchester International Conference Centre from 24 to 28 September. It was the first time in 50 yearsFact|date=February 2007 the main Labour conference was not held at a seaside town and the first time since 1917 the Labour conference had been held in Manchester. This follows Labour's Spring 2004 conference which was held at the G-Mex for the first time. The conference was Blair's last as leader after he stated this would be the case just before the conference and at the conference itself. The start of the conference was marked with protests against the Iraq war.

Tony Blair, in his last speech to conference as Labour Party leader and Prime Minister, praised the work of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. [cite web| url = | title =It's hard to let go, admits Blair | author = | date = 2006-09-26| work =BBC News | publisher = ]

The conference was addressed in a joint session by Labour's Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone and the Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa on the subject of climate change. Bob Geldof and Monica Naggaga from Oxfam (Uganda) spoke together about the plight of Africa. The main international guest speaker was the former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Another international visitor - but not a speaker to the conference - was Shimon Peres, the former Prime Minister of Israel.

2007 Bournemouth

The 2007 conference was held in the Bournemouth International Centre from September 23rd to 27th. The conference was the first with Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister, and he laid out his plains for his premiership.

2008 Manchester

The 2008 conference was held between Saturday September 20th and Wednesday September 24th in Manchester at Manchester Central (formerly G-Mex). The opening day of conference was moved from Sunday to Saturday to allow people who work during the week to attend. The Labour leader and Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, delivered his keynote address on Tuesday September 23rd.



* [ Labour Party official website]
* [ 2007 Conference on Labour's website]

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