As Labour in Brighton is now just a warm memory for delegates and the media pauses for breath before the circus moves on to Manchester for next week’s Conservative conference, is Brighton in danger of just becoming another suburb of London? “Brighton is less than an hour away” the Time Out essential guide to Brighton I picked up midweek at the tourist office there explains on its first page. Well it all depends where you start from (even quicker if it’s East Croydon). Nonetheless the fact there is such a fast connection to Victoria (handy that given that the curent Labour HQ is at Victoria Street) means that there is a danger of it becoming an offshoot.

Morrissey memorably evoked “the seaside town they forgot to close down” when he sang about a washed up unnamed resort on “Everyday is Like Sunday”.  Presumably however Brighton’s proximity to the big smoke is what keeps Labour coming back when fellow seaside town Blackpool has been abandoned as a conference venue – not anything more sinister as some have implied. As Tony Blair told Progress’ annual conference in 06 (on his impending departure) “there were no smoke filled rooms becuase we’ve banned them”. Manchester with far superior transport connections than Blackpool has been a popular venue more recently. It has enough accomodation and the conference venues are top-notch enough for the Conservatives to be coming for the first time next week (another Labour policy nicked).

Regarding Brighton, these images indicate what kind of a place this Camden-on-sea type resort is. It’s not a place for the bathchair brigade which is the reputation of say near-neighbour Eastbourne. There is a healthy alternative scene – the Time Out guide has listings of a fringe festival, Winter solstice event, suggestions for pink pound expenditure and lots of pictures of people supping lattes on pavements. Pictured are the board outside the Oxfam shop inviting Labour MPs to blow their expenses there the picturesque Brighton Pavillion that looks like a cross between an Oxbridge college and the Taj Mahal. All good but was Brighton so keen on getting city status because it didn’t want to be called a “suburb” (of London) given that this term represents the apex of naffness? Could Brighton survive without the nation’s great capital?

Anyway I am blathering on a bit here. Amongst the general scenery pix is Peter Mandelson delivering a lecture for Progress on the role of markets in the economy – he argued that they do have a role but we need a more nuanced approach than simply labelling them as “bad”; they can work when they are in a relationship with the state in case you’re interested. If you look closely you may be able to see the First Secretary but it was difficult to take. I’m only short and found myself in a spot where I was swerving to avoid giving a handjob to any of the assorted livebloggers and tweeters squished at the back of a room packed to the rafters as we were.

Advice for next week? Manchester rave on. By the way click on any of the above to enlarge.

Advertisements