Oct 2023 - Report from Labour Party Conference
Please click here to listen to an audio recording of the Fringe meeting held on Sunday evening of the conference (starting with the 5 minute prelude, and continuing to all but the final 15 minutes of the meeting).
2023 Labour Party Conference: Stall and Fringe Meeting Report
Report by Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), Heather and Dave Wetzel to the Henry George Foundation, School of Philosophy and Economic Science and Labour Land Campaign (our sponsors). Article abridged by Rob Blakemore.
The CEJ’s presence at Labour Party conference in Liverpool was a huge success. We had 60 people attend the fringe meeting and hundreds heard the message re LVT for the first time. It took a considerable amount of work and time to organise the exhibition stall and the fringe meeting, this was not helped by the Labour Party’s arcane way of registering individual passes, booking the stall, booking a table, booking a meeting room, booking the refreshments and advertising in their conference brochure – all separate processes. We also had the job of booking speakers and were turned by Martin Wolf, two Mayors, the First Minister for Wales, Margaret Hodge MP and many others.
Andrew Purves made all the necessary payments or reimbursements, and David Triggs organised the printing of the leaflets and manufacture of the banners. David T also arranged his own display boards used as the background on the stall and at the meeting and he also prepared a film loop from our “The Taxing Question of Land” re renters and the Jubilee Line which was shown on his own TV on the stall.
David Triggs, Dave Wetzel and Heather Wetzel set up the stall on the Friday and were able to give out leaflets advertising the fringe meeting to other stalls and to the few delegates, visitors etc. who arrived early. Saturday was the Women’s conference, and we had a lot of interest at the stall and gave out a lot of leaflets advertising the fringe meeting. As well as the leaflet written by David T.
David Triggs, Honorary President of the Henry George Foundation, covered the stall for the whole week and spoke at the fringe meeting; Andrew Purves (CEJ) and Rob Blakemore (CEJ) came on the Sunday to work on the stall - Andrew also spoke at the fringe meeting whilst Rob did the techie bit for the meeting; Eric Masaba (a friend of Dave’s) lives in Liverpool and helped out on most days with leafletting and covering the stall.
Peter Reilley (LLC Vice-Chair from Southport) and Anthony Molloy (LLC member and Brent Councillor) did full stints every day handing out leaflets and getting folk into conversation on the benefits of shifting to LVT. Murad Qureshi (Chair of LLC and former GLA member) and Jordan Creed (LLC member) also helped on the stall when he was not attending meetings. David Triggs, Heather and Dave Wetzel covered the stall every day.
Although not in the main exhibition hall, our stall was in quite a good location as meeting rooms were on the floor below and people had to pass the stalls on our floor to get there.
The main exhibition room was full of commercial stands and just a few small stalls from the voluntary sector and of course, the media was out in full.
All of our one thousand CEJ leaflets were handed out to publicise the fringe meeting during the first two days and at least a further three thousand LVT leaflets produced by our member organisations were collected by delegates or distributed by our helpers during the five days of the conference. Fifty-three people provided their email addresses for further information and contact, and we estimate that over five hundred conversations with delegates were held with representatives of the CEJ during the event.
The fringe meeting held in the security area was quite well attended by delegates and visitors (most of the 63 seats were taken at the start of the meeting). Thanks to the efforts of Rob Blakemore on the day we were able to obtain free use of the sound equipment in the room which otherwise would have cost us up to £300.
Unfortunately, a few people left because they only came to hear Andy Burnham who was invited but only declined shortly before the Conference. We had four speakers and Dave Wetzet chaired the meeting. Andrew P and David T spoke in detail about LVT - explaining how it works and giving examples of where land value is collected in other countries. Sadaf Moosvi spoke about her outreach housing role at the NEF explaining why LVT is needed and Jacky Peacock talked about the problems tenants face and why LVT is needed to resolve them. It would have been better if David T and Andrew P had spoken first, as many people had drifted away by the time they both spoke about our economic solution. Nevertheless, in the next few days subsequent to the meeting several delegates approached us to say how much they learned from the meeting.
Probably a lesson for the future is to ensure that all speakers properly understand how the economic, social, and environmental benefits of collecting land and other natural resourcerents can enable so many problems to be solved.
Heather and Dave Wetzel believe the CEJ stall and fringe meeting were more than just worthwhile and thank all who participated and the HGF and SPES for providing the funding.
Conclusion: The level of understanding LVT by delegates and visitors at Labour Party conferences has grown considerably over the years and the CEJ’s effort has made a great contribution this year. It would be good to have a CEJ stall at all major Party conferences, but we need to get many more young/younger people involved to arrange the events, staff the stalls and to speak at meetings even if this means employing two or three young people on a part-time basis in the months leading up to the conferences.