As a buoyant North West Labour conference looked ahead to winning elections, there was also hope that Blackpool can win back the national party conferences.
Political activists and Labour MPs gathered at the regional Labour Party Conference at the Hilton Hotel, Blackpool at the weekend, and listened to speeches about a new vision for Britain’s future.
GordonMarsden (right), MP for Blackpool South, said: “We have got about 1,000 people here. “That’s a great boost for the town at the end of the half term. “There’s a really good buzz here because the North West has got the largest number of Labour MPs than anywhere in the country.”
Blackpool was for many years the host for Labour’s national conferences, and now with plans for a new £25m conference centre and hotel at the Winter Gardens, hopes were high that the resort could once again takes its place on the political stage.
Mr Marsden said: “This is the seventh consecutive Regional Conference we have had here.
“What I and other people have been emphasising this weekend, and what we will continue to emphasise, is that we have a coming together of major development projects that will make our bid for the National Conference that bit more powerful.
“We’re very much going onwards and upwards in terms of development. We will have new hotels, a conference centre, and a rail service to London, so this is a great place to have the Conference.”
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, deputy leader John McDonnell, and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott met with supporters on Saturday, while leader Jeremy Corbyn used to his speech on Sunday to call for a clean-up of politics after accusations of sexual harassment.
Police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw (right), who attended the conference as a delegate, said: “The turnout for the conference is fantastic. You can feel the atmosphere and the enthusiasm that people have got.
“People are desperate to see change within the country. People have got a real concern with austerity and the impact of the cuts.
“Particularly, people are a concerned about social care and mental health issues.
“People want to see support for the public sector and the police.”
Ingthorpe councillor Amy Cross, who attended the conference, said: “The conference sold out this year.
“There were no more tickets available, and were were signing up to be stewards this year.
“It’s always good for Blackpool to have conferences; we like people spending in our local economy.
“Hopefully we can anticipate more conferences to come to Blackpool with our new business centre, which we are hoping will be done in 2019.
“We are confident that we could get the national conference back here with the new centre.”
Labour supporter Judith Costello, who lives off Whitegate Drive and has been a member of the party since she was 14 years old, said: “With the building of the new business centre, I have every faith that the Labour Party will come back to Blackpool.
“We’re certainly having a good year, with the biggest party membership that we have had in a very long time.
“It’s very good to see and we feel vibrant again.”