By Neil Cuthbert Chart.PR, Director, PA Cooperative Ltd.
I’ve been reflecting on the five days the PA Cooperative team spent at the UK Labour Party conference in Liverpool.
The conference brought together more than 18,000 attendees including party members, MPs, business leaders, and activists. As the next general election approaches, this major event offered insights into Labour’s policy priorities and political strategy in the coming months.
The conference highlighted Labour’s confidence and readiness for government after years of rebuilding under leader Keir Starmer. This contrasted with a growing sense of desperation within the ruling Conservative Party, which held its own lacklustre conference in Manchester a week earlier.
Several major themes emerged from the Liverpool conference that shed light on what Labour wants to accomplish in power:
- Labour outlined an economic plan focused on boosting domestic industry and onshoring production back to the UK. This represented a clear difference from the Conservatives’ approach. The message of self-sufficiency and securing Britain’s future competitiveness really resonated with business leaders present – whether linked to food security, energy security or timber security;
- Levelling up
- At a rural fringe event we attended, Shadow DEFRA Minister Baroness Sue Hayman critiqued the government’s levelling up strategy as out of touch with realities outside London. She pointed out poor transportation in her rural Cumbrian constituency as an example. Labour aims to do better at equitable investment across the regions, including rural areas where it is currently poorly represented;
- Labour’s determination to build up Britain
- Controversially Keir Starmer promised to “bulldoze” through Britain’s restrictive planning system promising to “build one and half million new homes across the country.” Many campaigners will now focus on protecting precious green belt areas but the question for the forestry and timber industry is how many of these homes will be built from home-grown wood?
- Celebrating Scottish Success
- Following Labour’s “seismic” by-election victory in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, there was a festive mood during the yearly conference Scottish Night for the first time in many years. There is increasing confidence that Labour can win 20 seats or more in Scotland in the general election, which will assist Keir Starmer earn his place in Downing Street;
- A listening party
- Labour figures actively solicited ideas and feedback from delegates, businesses, and visiting organisations. They know that being in government again means broadening their appeal. The packed fringe events reflected a party comfortable debating policy details.
As I wandered the packed conference halls and fringe events, the enthusiasm and determination of Labour members was palpable. After years of Tory rule, the party can now taste victory at the polls, even as economic troubles loom large. Labour has found its confidence and voice again under Keir Starmer.
I look forward to seeing how the energy on display in Liverpool propels the party forward in the coming months on the road to what could be a history-making general election next year.