Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Most Memorable Party Conference Moments

My colleagues at Total Politics are compiling a feature on the most memorable moments from party conferences gone by. We all remember David Steel's plea in 1981 to "go back to your constituencies and prepare for government, Margaret Thatcher doing the Dead Parrott sketch and Neil Kinnock's Derek Hatton moment.

What would you say were the most memorable moments from party conferences over the past two decades? Pick some funny, moving or game changing moments.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's a Party Conference?

Raedwald said...

Margaret Beckett slaughtering 'House of the Rising Sun' on a karaoke machine; it's seared itself into my consciousness with white-hot pain, yet I've never met anyone else who has seen the clip, and the clip has never resurfaced on TV. No, it wasn't my imagination.

If any vid librarians or TV researchers are reading, please unearth this - it's just too good to be lost to posterity.

James Higham said...

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Anonymous said...

Sorry Iain, not from a party conference, but from McDoom's press confereence.

Brown says that he thinks voters in Norwich and Glasgow by-elections will recognise which party has the best policies for the recession.

What will he do when Labour are wiped out?

Richard Abbot said...

Peter lilleys singing was pretty awful
Or did I dream that?

Knut said...

"Go home and prepare for government"

"We're aaaall riiight"

John Moss said...

Kinnock, Sheffield 1992.

How to lose an election in thirty seconds.

Carl Gardner, Head of Legal said...

You question makes me realise how many great moments there were before 1989, and how few there have been since.

Tony Blair's first conference speech as Labour leader, I think - when he sprang the change to Clause 4 on the party and few people understood what he meant at first.

Thats News said...

Yes. This one.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nExMONA_-Lg

Labour Party 'red' in tooth and claw.

Thomas said...

I second Peter Lilley Singing. God it was embarressing

Tiresias said...

Raedwald, do you mean this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGrmwjX8Hvg

Anonymous said...

Oh God - yet ANOTHER list. Try to blog for just ONE week without a list, Iain.

Anonymous said...

I remember attending my first ever LibDem conference, in Eastbourne in 1997. I went to the Glee Club not knowing what to expect. I guess I didn't expect to see two new MPs singing "Tony Blair can f*** off and die" to a packed room. Much fun.

David Boothroyd said...

The last two decades is somewhat limiting. But it does allow in John Redwood's "singing" the Welsh National Anthem at the Welsh Conservative conference.

Lilley's execrable songs were certainly memorable; less memorable was Tony Blair's first platform speech as Shadow Energy Secretary when he turned over two pages at once and lost his way completely.

Others: IDS's claque in 2003, Portillo's SAS moment in 1995, Blair's swansong in 2006, John Prescott's end of conference specials, Charles Kennedy attempting to speak while clearly very ill.

Iain Dale said...

Tell you what, I'll run my blog the way I want. If you don't like it, you have plenty of others to visit. It's not as if you are paying for it, is it?!

Botogol said...

didn't heseltine do a silly walk - 'left left left' or sometnig?

Ivor Biggun said...

Portiloo's awful "Who Dares Wins" guff, complete with pudding bowl haircut.

Kinnock falling in the sea at Brighton (as immortalized in the Spitting Image titles).

William Hague at 16...

P.S. The Kinnock Sheffield Rally, much as I loved him for it, was an election rally, not a conference).

Mick said...

Didn't Kenny Everett do an amusing skit about bombing the Russians?

Ivor Biggun said...

Anonymous at 1.21pm: "Oh God - yet ANOTHER list. Try to blog for just ONE week without a list, Iain."

Oh $Deity - yet ANOTHER self-entitled whinger. Try to read free stuff for just ONE week without ungrateful whinging, Anonymous.

P.S. WV - minanuts - most apt!

IanVisits said...

I'd go for John Prescott barnstorming performance in support Tony Blair's plans to scrap Clause 4.

Not only an outstanding speech, but a pivotal moment in the emergence of New Labour as a political force.

Ivor Biggun said...

Mick: "Didn't Kenny Everett do an amusing skit about bombing the Russians?"

Oh yes, that was a good one - what shall we do with Michael Foot? Kick his stick away! :-)

Rexel No 56 said...

"Game changing" - would have to be Osborne on Inheritance Tax.

Without that we could well be in the second year of Brown's government rather than the last.

R56

Red Wedge said...

I'd go for John Prescott barnstorming performance in support Tony Blair's plans to scrap Clause 4.


Good call, but wasn't in support of John Smith's OMOV?

Manny Shinwell's last conference speech was a good moment too.

Anonymous said...

David Cameron's leadership winning audition in 2005, or maybe Alan Duncan's televised thumbs-down to David Davis's speech that year.

Tony Blair's schmaltzy fairwell to labour...

The white witch who raised a point of order about satanic symbols on display at a Lib Dem conference a couple of years ago.

IDS's Quiet Man turning up the volume.

Cjamesk said...

"Oh God - yet ANOTHER list. Try to blog for just ONE week without a list, Iain."

How about Iain runs his blog how he likes and if it`s not up to your standard then leave.

Schimples isn`t it "Anonymous"

Anonymous said...

Cameron's speech in 2005 - effectively secured him the Party leadership. Kinnock falling over on the beach in 1983. Hague in 77 (yawn, yawn, but memorable). Heseltin's "left, left, left" speech. Peter Lilley in 1990-something, but I can't remember why!! Callaghan 1978 - "my wife..won't let me..." (his tease about the Election - how he must have regretted that!!)

Thats News said...

Raedwald, your wish is my command!

Margaret Beckett murders House of the Rising Bile. Sorry! I mean Sun!!!

golden_balls said...

your getting a bit stroppy these days iain

people have opinions don't take it personally if a few comments get you stressed i'd suggest you need a holiday.

Onto the topic

So many to choose from i would suggest either TB clause 4 or Neil Kinnock's millitant speech both had significant impact in politics and i doubt labour would have won three general elections without them.

Laurence Hodge said...

Walter Wolfgang being invited to leave the labour party conference in 2005

hovedan said...

The absurd "the quiet man is turning up the volume" speech from IDS - most lobbyists, journos and all but the diehard loyalists who were present just fell about laughing.

Interesting though that IDS has turned out to be one of the most interesting social policy thinkers.

Benji said...

A few that come to mind: Kinnock's anti-Militant speech in 1985;Dennis Skinner raging at the coal-pit closures in 1992-Margaret Thatcher(you turn if you want to...),Norman Tebbit savaging the Maastricht Treaty in 1992,Gordon Brown making an abortive putsch attempt in 2003 and David Cameron successfully bluffing Gordon Brown in 2007.

Anonymous said...

Interesting though that IDS has turned out to be one of the most interesting social policy thinkers.

Thinkers is probably stretching it a bit, no?

Cameron's noteless speech was quite something in 2007, with both Brown and Clegg having to respond in kind in 2008

I thought Brown did it reasonably well in a first-day economics session but Clegg's leader's speech just felt contrived.

Matthew Rudd said...

William Hague's gag about the Prescotts taking a car 100 yards to conference.

"I sympathise with the Prescotts. I know what the sea breezes can do to your hair. Look what they did to mine."

DespairingLiberal said...

Poor little teenage Hague's barking performance as a True Blue Boy. Raving retro 1920s ultra-Toryism complete with mad eyes and AC/DC school clothes. He is only marginally less bonkers now, aged 48.

DespairingLiberal said...

Hovedan - IDS is more of a copyist than an original thinker. He is just rehashing Bushite "Compassionate Conservatism" (actually just the old Roman classic - bread and circuses at home, hard-screwed foreigners abroad) - which Tony Blair did so very much better. Hence IDS's dismal performances.

Stepney said...

For pure political theatre it has to be Kinnock and THAT speech.

Much as I dislike the troughing old Taff wind-bag, he stood up and delivered that day. Kicked Hatton and Militant right in the fork.It was a tremendous performance.

If only there a was a principled socialist who could do the same with the current bunch of Labour traitors - civil rights abuses/corruption/incompetence/jobs for the boys/wasteful extravagance on self-indulgence...New Labour 2009 or Liverpool Militant 1985?

Can YOU tell the difference?

BushBaby said...

Remember the interview with Charles Kennedy the morning after the birth of his child
He was totally pissed and could not answer any question period
That sealed his fate as Leader of the Ludicrous Democrats

Paul Burgin said...

Neil Kinnock's attack on Millitant in Bournemouth in 1985 is a defining moment for me. Plus John Prescott supporting OMOV for Labour in 1993, which proved timely given John Smith's death some eight months later

hovedan said...

in response to comments about my earlier comments on IDS - i think despairing liberal would be advised to re read IDS's body of social policy papers - he is far from a rehash of "compassionate conservatism" - whilst i may disagree with a central tenant of the IDS approach - that disfunction leads to poverty (rather than poverty leading to disfunction)- he has pushed the boudaries of debate for left and right - and for that he should be congratulated.

Dr Evadne said...

Here we go: The one legged army speech by Tarzan
http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_7020000/newsid_7023700/7023725.stm?bw=bb&mp=rm&asb=1&news=1&ms3=20&ms_javascript=true&bbcws=2

And this classic Balls put down:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_7020000/newsid_7023900/7023973.stm?bw=bb&mp=rm&asb=1&news=1&bbcws=1

If you can't open the above the videos can be found on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/the_daily_politics/6967366.stm
and more classics.

Michael St George said...

Hovedan is right about IDS - and Despairing Liberal needs to go back to the shed and carry on pasting his collection of Polly Toynbee op-eds into his scrapbook.

Anonymous said...

Walter Wolfgang, the 82 year old Labour activist who was dragged from the conference hall in 2005, for a heckle. He was later held under section 44 of the terrorism act.

Or how about Bournemouth, September 2007, when the words "I want a referendum" were writ large in the sand outside the conference venue - only to be erased by a troop of police horses...

DMC said...

It wasnt a party conference but Callaghan singing at the TUC conference 1978 which ruled out his autumn election.

or at the 1976 Labour conference when he made that speech stating

We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists

Wilsons "white heat revolution" speech.

Thatcher in 1981 saying "U Turn if you want to"

Portillo saying "We Dare, We will win"- 95 Tory Conference.

Tony Blairs farewell speech to the 2006 Labour conference.

Anonymous said...

Tony Blairs joke about Cherie in 2006 I think - "at least there's no danger she'll run off with the bloke next door".

In the same conference I think she stormed out shouting "that's a lie" when Brown talked of his friendship with Blair.

The 2007 Conservative conference is the best one I can think of. Camerons keynote speech and Osbourne on inheritance tax turned the opinion polls upside down, stopped the election and put Brown into the duldrums.

There's a case to say that Brown's "No time for a novice" jibe in 2008 was strong. The Tory lead went from 20%+ to single figures the following week, though that it has obviously rebuilt since.

2005 Tory Conference, Camerons leadership bid speech sealed the deal with the party.

The one where IDS said "don't underestimate the resolve, of a quiet man" in the most threatening tone I've ever heard him speak with!

Thatchers self depricating joke at a conference in about 2000 "The mummy returns" is up ther as well.

Sadly I'm not old enough to remember the '92 Kinnock Sheffield Rally, but wasn't that a one off election event rather than regular party conference speech?

333 is a good number said...

I must admit to laughing at some of the sneering at Kinnock. Were it not for him, there would have been no Blair, and were it not for Blair, the Tories would have been condemned to an eternity of being led by the likes of IDS, Michael Ancram and their ilk.

History, I believe, will judge Kinnock very kindly.

Matthew Rudd said...

The "don't underestimate the resolve of a quiet man" line by IDS (and written by Julian Fellowes) was very good. When he said "the quiet man is back and he's turning up the volume" a year later (again thanks to Fellowes) he ruined it.

Grant Tucker said...

Aneurin Bevan - Naked in the Conference Chamber

Hugh Gaitskell - The end of a thousand years of history

William Hague aged 16 - You won't be here in 30 or 40 year time.

James Callaghan - There was I, waiting at the Church.

Michael Heseltine - Left, Left, Left.

Peter Lilley - I've got a little list

Paddy Ashdown - Hubble, Bubble, boi land trouble reduce the Tory party to rubble.

David Cameron - The one that caused Brown to bottle his election