Conference sketch

The TUC conference was more sushi and chilled white wine than beer and sarnies. But the refined refreshments did nothing to assuage the anger of delegates.

The fringe events were bursting with fuming unionists, all anxious to have their say. Those who couldn’t get into the Brighton Centre raged outside, from anti-war protestors to former Gate Gourmet staff. Security was tight, but Bob Crow’s clenched fist was tighter.

Many of the delegates seemed keen to prove that they were only concerned with current issues. TUC president Gloria Mills set the tone in her opening address.

“People dare to suggest that trade unions have had their day, that we are stuck in the past,” she said. “Let us say to them loud and clear: ‘you are wrong’.”

But references to picket lines, mining communities and comrades did little to dispel the myth.

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka urged delegates to make Tony Blair’s farewell tour as awkward as possible for him.

“Congress, when Tony makes his tour, there should be demonstrators outside every hospital, school, tax office, job centre, court, train station, fire station and ambulance station,” he said.

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