The start of November found me in Perth along with other Labour Party members and supporters.
I’ve been to the Scottish Labour Conference before where conference had taken the form of a rally. Sometimes, this was effective in motivating members for the campaigns that lay ahead, but undoubtedly a number of members felt that there was something missing from this format.
This time round as part of a change agenda put forward by Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour Party Leader and Alex Rowley, Deputy Leader, we were promised something different and a departure from recent years.
Motions would be debated and conference would decide on the issues that would inform our manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections next year.
True to their word and under a banner of Change and Take a Fresh Look, members debated a variety of issues including; Housing, Tax Credits, the Trade Union Bill and Trident.
Moving conference away from a rally based format, and returning to a focus on motions, is I believe a positive step.
By way of illustration take the example of what happened in our CLP.
Members at our CLP debated motions on the Council Tax, Trident, Care Alarms and Further Education.
Changes to each motion were suggested and discussed before we finally voted on which motion our CLP would put forward.
Cuts to Further Education was selected and duly submitted to the party.
So, on Friday afternoon at conference I was able to put our motion forward, where it was debated and carried.
Being able to influence party policy in this way means that our members will feel more engaged in how we decide things and feel part of the debate – a positive step!
Combine this with the optimistic tone set in speeches made by Jeremy, Kezia and Alex, delegates left conference feeling energised and in an u
I know some in the party may not be too sure about some of the recent changes that we’ve seen. But as long as we can keep the same spirit of tolerant debate that I’ve seen in the last few months, which recognises that there may be differences in views and opinions, then I remain hopeful that we can move forward together and focus on working towards a Labour victory next year.
We know that the Scottish Parliament elections next year aren’t going to be easy for Labour and that we face a massive challenge in the months to come.
But I believe that conference has provided us with a positive platform to move forward together on and that come May we can win in Midlothian North and Musselburgh!
As a final point, a couple of weeks ago we were out campaigning in Dalkieth to Stop the Tax Credit Cuts and telling people about the policy Kezia had announced at conference , that Labour would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to restore the cuts.
We got a good reaction from the public and a lot signatures for our petition.
So, its great to hear today that because of pressure from the Labour Party and others, George Osborne has announced a u-turn and that it looks these cuts have been scrapped.
It just goes to show what can be achieved by acting boldly and campaigning effectively!