Labour Party Annual Conference - Monday
22 Sep 2008
Held at Manchester Central from 20-24 September
Monday 22 September - Focus on economic affairs
With attention turned to the economy, Alistair Darling came into the spotlight stating in his keynote address that "These are extraordinarily turbulent times; a crisis that has rocked the financial institutions around the world on top of the large rise in fuel, food and commodity prices."
Although borrowing would need to rise in order to "support the economy and families when they need it most", Darling made it clear that the Government would, in the medium term, have to live within its means. He called for tougher regulations of the banking system and more protection for savers but also hinted that tax increases would eventually be needed.
Delegates agreed with Darling's view that the British Government was not responsible for the global financial crisis but thought that Labour would have to fight really hard to stay in power because they would inevitably take the flack for what has happened. They also supported moves to curb the excesses of the City and corporate greed.
At the Dragons’ Den: Investing in enterprise and innovation fringe event, Science Minister, Ian Pearson talked about the strong science base in the UK and the launch of the Innovation Nation White Paper. “We can become the most innovative country in the world…that must be our ambition” he said.
Stephen Broomhead, Chief Executive of the Northwest Regional Development Agency was concerned about the disconnection of skills planning from innovation. Regional Development Agencies have, he said, tried to join together the themes of skills, enterprise, innovation and competitiveness and ensure that business support services are integrated. “You don’t want too many wrong doors for people to go through”, he added.
Simon Tucker, Associate Director at The Young Foundation pointed out that the skills employers struggle to find from new recruits are teamwork, self-discipline, motivation and communication rather than literacy and numeracy. “It’s quite striking that our schools mostly don’t teach these skills directly…you can’t find them on the curriculum”, he said. The Young Foundation aims to set up schools that will teach the skills that are needed for young people to become entrepreneurs or good employees.
Labour's annual conference is the main event in the party's political calendar and a crucial point in its policy making process.
policyreview.tv is providing online coverage from each day of the conference, recording interviews, fringe meetings and gauging the reaction of delegates and pundits.