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« In defence of Wayne Rooney | Main | Mum and Dad, 80 not out »

Why Forest lost interest in Labour

A very small part of me would like to be in Manchester for the Labour party conference. A friend reports that the place is "buzzing" following the election of Ed Miliband as party leader. And this evening I could have attended one of the best parties in town (see above).

The truth is, though, I have grown disillusioned with Labour conferences. For groups such as Forest it really is a case of banging your head against a brick wall. But it wasn't always like that.

In Brighton in 2004 Joe Jackson was invited, via Forest, to share a platform with Health Secretary John Reid and we actually dared to think that we were influencing Government policy. Reid clearly listened to what we were saying because a few weeks later he gave some weight to smokers' rights when he announced plans for a partial smoking ban.

Back in Brighton the following year we enjoyed what I can only describe as the most satisfying day of my professional career. I won't bore you with the story again because I've written about it ad nauseum, but thinking it about it still makes me laugh.

Despite our "success" at the 2005 Brighton conference, it was becoming increasingly difficult to engage with Labour on any level. In 2006 in Manchester we employed an ad van but to little effect.

In Bournemouth in 2007, a few months after the introduction of the smoking ban, we organised a drinks reception at the Royal Bath Hotel (scene of our famous Prohibition party at the 2006 Conservative conference). The event attracted a hundred or so delegates but none of them were MPs and I suspect that many were there only for the "free" champagne.

In any case I was already highly cynical about Labour and champagne receptions. In 2003 in Bournemouth I remember very clearly a Cabinet minister telling me, with a straight face whilst holding (another) glass of champagne that he was a libertarian and was opposed to a smoking ban. Three years later the same man (a close ally of Gordon Brown) voted in favour of a comprehensive ban on smoking in pubs and clubs. Libertarian? My arse.

In 2008, the last time Labour was in Manchester, we arranged a fringe meeting but the party failed to publish details of the event in the conference brochure. The same fate befell a Tobacco Retailers Alliance event. Coincidence? I think not.

Last year in Brighton we hired another ad van and handed out Save Our Pubs & Clubs beer mats but our efforts were wasted on what I can only describe as a dispirited rabble. Labour was past caring about social and civil liberties. And Forest was past caring about Labour.

Whether Ed Miliband's election will make any difference I don't know. I do know that Forest will never give up trying to engage with any mainstream political party, and that includes Labour. To paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger, "We'll be back."

Reader Comments (5)

I posted this message to Labour on hearing Milliband E was elected.

"R'Ed Milliband, Red Ken, Hammer and Sickle Bob Crowe, Trotskyite Trade unions, the Tories dream ticket!! I would get the champagne out but I am not a socialist."

After 13 years and nearly £6 trillion debt if you include public pensions liabilities, Labour deserve to be unelectable for 15 years. The leftward lurch and being bankrolled by the trade unions means that they are busy wrting a suicide note.

It is money saved in my opinion and I hope Labour will never be forgiven for the smoking ban.

September 26, 2010 at 21:42 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Maybe deep down, many in the Labour party know of several mistakes, but they 'dare not mention it's name', one is Brown and another is the comprehensive smoking ban. If a person belongs to an ideal, a belief, in this case the Labour party, they will speak out strongly when opposed, the more the opposition, the more they have to say. Whatever their lifestyle, they cannot forget about smoking and smokers, because they are constantly being reminded of it. Like you said SImon, Forest will never give up. Neither will a great number of smokers like myself, who only became aware of the fanatacism and manipulation of the anti smokers after the misery started, and our freedom of choice was snatched from us.

A typical Labour MP (there are a few exceptions) will only say anything if backed into a corner, and then it is the pre prepared propaganda. They hope it will go away, but it won't. This is why it is important that we continually 'peck their heads' about it.

September 26, 2010 at 22:54 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

And the Tories are exactly the same as Labour so it's a waste of time talking to them. Remember all the fine words after the election? "a smaller state", "an end to the war on the motorist", Clegg's "Freedom Site", "of course we won't consider changing the death penalty or the smoking ban"? All hot air and lies.

Has anyone actually noticed any difference since Cast Iron Dave came to power? Thought not. It's more of the same from another of the cloned parties. There might be a few good booze ups and parties to go to at the Tory Conference but that's about it.

September 27, 2010 at 4:32 | Unregistered CommenterJames Trent

Why worry about Labour, they're not in Govt. It seems to me, as Robinson said, that the flys in the ointment are Clegg and the libs. He's the front man over this issue and their voting record in '06 indicates it. (but I can't say I'm over keen on Lansley!)

September 27, 2010 at 6:42 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Rome's First Triumvirate (Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus) marked the beginning of the end for the Republic, and a continuation of the decline of the Senate (Rome's nearest thing to a 'parliament') as a political force.

Britain's First Triumvirate (Dave, Nick, and Ed) marks the (possible) beginning of the end for Parliamentary Democracy, and a continuation of the decline of the Electorate as a political force.

We may as well all just stay at home, and watch The Games on the telly. But will there be any free pizzas for the Plebs? That's the question ...

September 27, 2010 at 7:47 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

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