5 October 2006

Tony Blair with Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton (R) gave a speech at this year’s main conference

The Labour Party is to ditch its annual spring conference next year in favour of a series of smaller “seminars and consultations” across the UK.Party bosses said shelving the 2007 party meeting in Glasgow would help to involve more people in policy-making and was not designed to save money.

Blogs and podcasts would be used to broaden “online engagement” with the new “interactive party”, they said.

The party had debts of about £28m earlier this year.

While the main conference was held in Manchester in September, some 3,000 delegates had been expected in the Scottish city next spring.

‘Record bloggers’

Labour’s National Executive Committee said it had decided to take politics “out to the country”.

The committee said the Manchester conference had seen “a record number of bloggers and podcasts”.

“The change of format will involve the largest-ever number of people in our discussions on future policy priorities.”

Peter Watt, Labour’s general secretary, said he was “excited” about the plans.

“The Labour Party has always led the way in reforming its structures and outreach to involve the largest possible number of people in policy-making,” he said.

“This new approach will allow us to involve the greatest-ever number of party members and supporters in the preparation of what will become our next manifesto.”