Friday, 26 August 2016

Those were the days...

The Labour Party’s annual conference is reported to be under threat as a result of a dispute over which company should provide the security.  They appear to have got themselves into a bit of a mess over the whole issue, but the thing that struck me was the claim that the conference cannot go ahead without security. 
I must have missed something somewhere, but who decided, and when, that a political party cannot hold an annual conference without employing a security company?  Is it some sort of job creation scheme for ex-policemen?
I can remember when ‘security’ wasn’t a consideration at all.  Indeed, I can remember a time when the security services were more interested in conducting surveillance on delegates of some parties than in protecting them.
How times change.

4 comments:

Glyn Morris said...

Sadly there is a threAT OF od Terrorism but"security has ben used to stifle debate" s in the notorious case of Walter Wolfgangin 2005 a Labour party party member for 57 years, who was bundled out of the conference hall by stewards after shouting "nonsense" as Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, defended Britain's role in Iraq. He was later stopped under anti-terrorist powers as he tried to re-enter the hal

Democritus said...

Have been following this with some bemusement - only the Labour Party cold get itself in such a mess ...
Merseyside Police special branch are understandably concerned about both traditional public order problems and the new but very serious threats from jihadists and other violent extremists in the wakes of Cox, Brevik etc. It is they who require that reputable and capable security staff are employed to maintain a totally secure perimeter and inspect passes, perform bag & body searches etc 24 hours a day ideally avoiding excessive queuing at rush periods. As well as covering the perimeter and entrances there also have to be enough bodies in position at all times to facilitate complete evacuation of the venue the moment the police so direct. This requires it appears up to nearly 1000 temporary staff working in shifts around the clock.
In the past some of these roles were performed by volunteer party members (they still are at Conference Centres such as Venue Cymru) who got a free conference pass and a bed in some dodgy B&B in exchange for a few hours a day minding the door. Merseyside Police is already stretched hosting Conference and policing the rest of the force area properly. If Labour can't find a security provider the force will have to cancel all officer leave and borrow bodies from nearby forces (and warranted coppers on double time don't come cheap) to plug the gap. I don't know how much Labour makes from annual conference these days since giving up on any prospect of power in the next decade and banning "evil" multinationals such as McDonalds & BAE Systems (probably shortly to be followed by Virgin group plc) from paying through the nose for the dubious privilege to attend, but I assume it is still run on a profit making basis. Although the Labour Party has seldom ever not been broke it will have counted on Conference to at least be an asset in fiscal terms (it's always been a political liability). Instead the red ink could well run to 7 digits ...

It has been suggested that the Labour Party return to using volunteers leavened by their entire party staff to substitute for G4S. Problem with that is there's no reservoir of members with appropriate training and accreditation anymore (there never really was as such - the security industry having professionalised big time since the mid '90s); nor anywhere near enough full time staff - who in any case are far from idle keeping Conference moving, pastoral liaison with delegations, compositing, media handling, running fringe 'training' courses etc.

michael williams said...

Good heavens, security at party conferences, what next. My only experience of this kind of presence was some 50 odd years ago at a Plaid Cymru conference in Aberystwyth when delegates were photographed by I assume security agents when entering the venue !! I assume that we were assumed to be such a threat to the British state at the time that plod felt the need to know exactly who we were. My. How things have changed.

Pete said...

I'm with Michael here. How times have changed. I remember in the 70's, in Cymdeithas yr Iaith especially, we were always suspicious of anyone who payed their dues on time. They had to be special branch. Or 1969 when prominent members of Plaid and their families were under constant surveillance during the investiture. I remember the late Dr. Phil Williams remarking on how amused he was that some government official considered his mother-in-law a dangerous person.
Nevertheless, in the world of today, there must be some protection against terrorist action by persons outside MI5.
I am truly looking forward to the brave new world that I'm returning to.