The right people to talk to, places to go and serious tomes to be seen with
Which events should you be attending?
It has not always been a recipe for advancement in the Labour party, but dropping in on an event being hosted by Sinn Féin at 6pm could be a smart move for the ambitious Corbynista. Before becoming leader, Corbyn had agreed to speak on the theme of “Good Friday Agreement Under Threat – Equality Not Austerity” at the event at a Best Western hotel on the seafront. There is a Young Labour reception at the Hilton at the same time, though, and it may in the end be felt by Corbyn’s advisers that meeting the kids is a safer bet than meeting lobby journalists floating around looking for trouble.
On Monday evening, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will be meeting its friends in Labour at the Mercure hotel and Corbyn is due to speak. Such events aren’t always the best attended, but expect it to be standing room only this year. Also expect a packed house at a lunchtime event hosted by the Smith Institute, where Corbyn is due to address the issue of whether tackling excessive top pay is anti-business.
Which book should you be carrying?
Those in the know doing the long march around conference will be gripping a copy of a volume with red covers entitled What Would Keir Hardie Say? Corbyn has contributed a chapter on Hardie’s attitude to war and international relations headed “International Peace: A Legacy for the Peace Movement”. He will be discussing it all at a “meet the authors” event in the Hilton at 5.30pm on Sunday.
Corbyn, who started a course in trade union studies at North London Polytechnic in the 1960s, but dropped out after a series of arguments with his tutors over the curriculum, writes admiringly of how the first Labour leader made it the hard way. “Hardie was a man of very little formal education, a child labourer, trade union organiser and parliamentarian,” writes the MP of three decades and counting. “Totally self-taught, he was able to visualise the need for unity across national borders in opposition to self-serving patriotism, and also to visualise the rights of then colonial subjects to their own destinies.”
Making parallels with the Stop the War Campaign in 2003, of which Corbyn was chair, and the campaigning by Hardie against Britain’s involvement in the first world war, the latest Labour leader adds: “Perhaps the strongest message, a century on, is that a world of peace can only come by opposing militarism, but it also needs an economic system with socialist principles, not the worship of personal wealth.”
Which events is it best to avoid?
There has been some confusion as to whether Corbyn will attend the business forum lunch being held in the Charlotte suite of the Grand Hotel on Monday. Initially it was not seen as a priority, but those close to the leader now say he will be there. It all sounds rather grudging. According to a leader’s diary produced for internal purposes, a visit to a Labour Friends of Israel reception at 9.30pm on Tuesday is also on the cards. A more likely bet for those looking to bump into the leader is popping over to the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East event being held between 7pm and 9pm at the Hilton on Monday. Definitely one to avoid is the Times party on Monday and maybe even the Sky News reception in the evening, although Corbyn has been invited.
Which drinks party should you go to?
Those with a taste for beer and sandwiches with union barons are in luck. There is a plethora of receptions at conference and Corbyn is expected to drop in on most of them. There is the Usdaw reception in the Hilton on Sunday, the Communication Workers Union drinks on Monday and a Unison bash on Tuesday. A union bevvy for every evening.