Does this mean that the change-over is being put back until July?
The above illustrations were taken from the Labour party website which even this afternoon was still promoting the 2007 Spring Party Conference to prospective delegates and corporate sponsors. This is the second biggest event in the party’s annual calender and preparations seem to have been well advanced.
The plan, potential corporate sponsors were being told, was “to incorporate Local Government, women and youth conferences, providing you the opportunity to target these particular audiences.” The event was due to take place place in Glasgow from 16-18th February.
Well that was the plan until this morning’s news that the conference was being cancelled. The official explanation is that instead of weekend gathering attracting 3,000 delegates, the party is to hold a series of smaller “seminars and consultations” across the UK.
It was perhaps no coincidence that Glasgow had been chosen for the venue given the Scottish Parliament Elections that take place next May. No doubt the party’s opponents north of the border will try to make political capital out of the cancellation.
The Guardian’s suggestion that the reason for the change might be the party’s budgetary position does not sound plausible. Clearly a lot of money had been spent already and there could well be cancellation charges. On top of that a conference of this scale is an income earner and that will be lost.
Could it be as the leading Labour blogger, Paul Linford, has suggested this afternoon that the Glasgow event has been scrapped to help Tony? Paul argues: “Had the Glasgow gathering taken place as planned, the Prime Minister would have been under enormous pressure to use it to name the precise date on which he plans to leave office..Furthermore, he would have had to make yet another farewell speech to the party faithful, which would inevitably have been something of an anti-climax on top of last week’s tour-de-force in Manchester at which he bade Labour what sounded like his last goodbye…Postponing the Spring conference may give the Prime Minister just that a little bit more legroom to enable him to hang on till the beginning of the summer recess.”
All of this could well have an impact on the Blair departure date betting. I’ve felt for several weeks that it’s going to be later than many have suggested and my money is on Q3 2007. This news reinforces my view.