About 80 Labour Party members met at Heartlands, Redruth, yesterday (Saturday) for the first-ever Cornwall Labour Party conference. Attendees represented all six of the local Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) in Cornwall.
The conference was called to launch the start of a policy-making process which will lead to a manifesto for the Cornwall Council elections in 2021. Dozens of Labour Party members have already indicated an enthusiasm for seeking election as Cornwall councillors, suggesting that for the first time in history Labour will contest every seat in the County Hall council chamber.
Anna Gillett, chair of the Cornwall Labour Party, opened the conference
The conference had been planned for several months and organisers were irritated that several re-scheduled dates had failed to avoid a clash with the large anti-Brexit demonstration in London.
A good-luck message from party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Sorry that I cannot be with you today for the first Cornwall Labour Party Conference. It sounds like a fantastic initiative, and exactly what is needed to see future Labour gains in Cornwall.
“Labour is now the biggest political party in Western Europe, and on the ground organisation around the country is central to our Party's success.
“The mission of the Labour movement must not just be to form the next government, but also to organise ourselves in every town, city and village in the country. I have been lucky to witness this in action on my previous visits to Cornwall and I am thrilled to hear that, thanks to all your hard work and effort, our movement continues to grow!
“By doing this important work, we can shine a light on the injustices of life for so many under this failed Tory government, but at the same time, we can give people hope for the better world that is possible if we come together, learn from each other, and demand that change is made.
“That is how we will end austerity; end the destruction of our environment and our seas; redistribute wealth and power; and rebuild Britain so that our society really does work for the many, not the few.
“Thank you all again for the brilliant work that you do and all the best with the conference.”
Mr Corbyn added that he hoped to visit Cornwall again soon.
The conference heard from economist Neil McInroy (above), of the Manchester-based Centre for Local Economic Strategies, widely credited as the “brains” behind the Preston-model of local government which encourages wealth to stay within local communities.
Mr McInroy told the conference it was clear that much of the European Union investment in Cornwall, over 20 years, had been spent outside of the county and had failed to produce the permanent structural improvements for which it was intended.
An early draft of one of the policy documents produced for the conference said Labour in Cornwall wanted to produce “the most imaginative, creative, best-researched and most accurately-costed manifesto local government has ever seen.”
Cornwall Labour Party executive member Deborah Hopkins at yesterday's conference
The executive of the Cornwall Labour Party is now collating the policy ideas suggested during workshop sessions yesterday, preparing to send them out to local CLPs for debate and possible amendment.
Camborne, Redruth and Hayle prospective Parliamentary candidate, Paul Farmer, addressed the conference and led the workshop session on local education policies
For those with sufficient energy, the conference concluded with live music.