This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Labour Conference: Delegates have their spiritis lifted

The Labour conference needed a bit of Olympic magic.

Delegates have spent the past week searching for that elusive feel good factor.

As the Prime Minister put the finishing touches to his make or break speech, we got a taste of it on Tuesday morning when Tim Brabants, Olympic gold medal canoeist in Beijing, spoke on the conference floor.

Taking part in a question and answer session with Alastair Campbell, Brabants had an important message for Labour Party members:

“You need to get behind one another. A good team behind you gives you confidence.”

It was a warning some elements of the Party might need to listen to.

Brabants was joined on stage by Olympics supremo, Tessa Jowell and Olympic Cycling Director, Dave Brailsford – the mastermind behind our recent cycling glory.

Brailsford wants to see cycling introduced as part of the national curriculum and he made a direct plea to government.

“Sport helps tackle social exclusion. It inspires people. It’s aspirational.”

Tessa Jowell agreed. The London 2012 Olympics she said would allow people “to realise their ambitions and possibilities”.

The conference lapped it up. Labour Party members can feel some pride that their government, which has increased funding for grassroots sport, is partly responsible for recent Olympic success.

The debate was rounded off with a speech by Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

He reminded the Party about the steps Labour had taken to increase participation, mentioning the compulsory five hours of sport in school that the government introduced.

He also welcomed the uptake of free swimming places – something my grandparents are currently feeling the benefit of.

It was a passionate speech. “Free culture, free sport, inspiring ideas that proclaim Labour values,” he yelled.

Not everyone will believe it. And not everyone will agree with it.

But as a welcome respite from the plotting and rumour mongering, the debate helped lift delegates’ spirits.

Not such a bad thing.

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