Sunday, September 27, 2009

What Did You Do On Your 20th Birthday?

Rosie Smith is a Sheffield University Undergraduate studying Politics. She is Youth Officer to both the North East Derbyshire Constituency Labour Party and its Dronfield Branch. She is attending the current Labour Party Conference as the Constituency's delegate.

She will then address the next meeting of our Discussion Group on Sunday, 11th October to give her "First Impressions Of A Labour Party Conference".

If you think that following up her Conference visit with a talk is dedication beyond the call of duty, then what about the fact that she is to give her talk on her 20th birthday? Think of what you did on your 20th birthday?

I was in Basra with the RAF doing my National Service and at least had a celebratory drink in the NAFFI. 4 years later I was due to attend the 1960 Labour Party Conference for the first time as a delegate. But I dropped out as it clashed with my starting full time study at Ruskin College in Politics and Economics. It meant that I missed Hugh Gaitskell's dramatic claim that he would "Fight, fight, fight and fight again to save the Party I love" over the Labour Conference adopting a unilateral policy which he was opposed to.

Gaitskell's response was raised during our last Discussion Meeting so I thought that as it was so long ago, I had better explain what had happened to Rosie and Caroline her sister who were present. For it was the equivalent to someone making a passing comment about a speech by Keir Hardie at the time when I was a young Labour activist! Except of course Rosie, Caroline and their mother Christine are all so steeped in Labour Party activity that they probably all know more than I do about both Hugh Gaitskell and Keir Hardie.

UPDATE - On the Labour Conference, this Austin Mitchell's piece in The Times on Monday 28 September is a recommended read.