Labour Party Conference Diary
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Labour Party Conference Diary

Lee Harpin reflects on a surprise appearance at Labour Friends of Israel's event by Corbyn Barry Gardiner, who was in Jeremy Corbyn inner circle

The Brent North MP Barry Gardiner was a surprise attendee at Tuesday night’s Labour Friends of Israel conference reception at the Brighton Hilton hotel.

Gardiner has made his support for Israel known in the pre-Jeremy Corbyn years. But more recently he has been a friend of those on the left not known for their praise of the Jewish state.

And literally 30 minutes before attending the LFI bash, Gardiner had been seen attending a rally organised by the Socialist Campaign Group, held in a circus tent at The World Transformed festival.

Gardiner was lapping up the support from the SCG for a parliamentary Bill he has circulated.

He appeared to also be present as Zarah Sultana MP led the chants of “Free, free Palestine” amongst the small gathering of Corbynista fanatics.

Lisa Nandy delivered another excellent speech at the LFI rally – setting out what she said was Labour’s pledge to stand firm in its support of Israel, while also standing up for the Palestinians and a two state solution. Amongst those also in the room were shadow defence secretary John Healey, shadow communities sec Steve Reed, Alison McGovern and Katherine West.

It was also interesting to see general secretary David Evans and ethics and standards adviser Jane Ramsey – two of Labour’s most effective operators in the fight against antisemitism – in the room through the LFI event.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner was seen leading the karaoke session, performing lead vocal alongside a band, in renditions of classics by Oasis and Blur. But more serious, and more reassuring news also emerged about Rayner’s performances in Labour rulling national executive committee meetings. Sources who have sat in the room alongside Rayner confirm she has been “staunch” in her backing of the EHRC rule change recommendations, unlike at least eight other NEC members associated with previou leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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