Labour conference lookahead | 28 September

The who, when and where of the Labour conference.

Look out for

Andy Burnham, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, will give a speech admitting that the party should have done more in government for the 50 per cent of young people who do not go to university. He will tell delegates that university is not the be all and end all of higher education and that those who want to take an apprenticeship or go into straight into work from school should be given greater support by the state.

He will also make the case for the introduction of a "Modern Baccalaureate" as a replacement for the the Coalition's "English Baccalaureate", which he will describe as part of "Gove's narrow, backward-looking vision". Finally, Burnham will attack the government for stripping funds from programmes established under Labour to help "the most needy".

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper is to announce the establishment of a Labour review into policing in England and Wales led by Lord Stevens amid what she will describe as the "chaos and confusion" of police reform under the Coalition. She will say the aim of the review is to "build on the best of British and international policing. Including experts from here and abroad" and that Labour wants to "[work] with the police not [try] to undermine them". Like Burnham, she will also go on the offensive against the government by accusing it of being "weak on crime"and claiming that Labour is "the party of law and order".

Signs of trouble?

Following his high-risk and potentially divisive speech yesterday, Ed Miliband could be facing some awkward questions about the direction of his leadership at the leader's Q&A. The Blairites seems particularly disgruntled about his references to "predatory capitalism" and may take the opportunity to remind Miliband of their mantra that elections are "won and lost on the centre-ground".

On the fringe

"How can we empower head teachers to improve our schools?" Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Labour in discussion with theNew Statesman's Rafael Behr (chair) and other guests. More details.

Conference timetable

Morning - 9.30am: Conference opens

Panel discussion of "Crime, Justice, Citizenship and Equalities" with Sadiq Khan, shadow justice secretary, Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, and Tessa Jowell, shadow secretary of state for the Cabinet Office.

12.15pm - Break

Afternoon - 2.15pm: Conference reconvenes

Health -- addresses from John Healey, shadow secretary of state for health Education, and Andy Burnham, shadow secretary of state for education.

5.15pm: Q&A with Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party

James Maxwell is a Scottish political journalist. He is based between Scotland and London.

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If there’s no booze or naked women, what’s the point of being a footballer?

Peter Crouch came out with one of the wittiest football lines. When asked what he thought he would have been but for football, he replied: “A virgin.”

At a professional league ground near you, the following conversation will be taking place. After an excellent morning training session, in which the players all worked hard, and didn’t wind up the assistant coach they all hate, or cut the crotch out of the new trousers belonging to the reserve goalie, the captain or some senior player will go into the manager’s office.

“Hi, gaffer. Just thought I’d let you know that we’ve booked the Salvation Hall. They’ll leave the table-tennis tables in place, so we’ll probably have a few games, as it’s the players’ Christmas party, OK?”

“FECKING CHRISTMAS PARTY!? I TOLD YOU NO CHRISTMAS PARTIES THIS YEAR. NOT AFTER LAST YEAR. GERROUT . . .”

So the captain has to cancel the booking – which was actually at the Salvation Go Go Gentlemen’s Club on the high street, plus the Saucy Sporty Strippers, who specialise in naked table tennis.

One of the attractions for youths, when they dream of being a footballer or a pop star, is not just imagining themselves number one in the Prem or number one in the hit parade, but all the girls who’ll be clambering for them. Young, thrusting politicians have similar fantasies. Alas, it doesn’t always work out.

Today, we have all these foreign managers and foreign players coming here, not pinching our women (they’re too busy for that), but bringing foreign customs about diet and drink and no sex at half-time. Rotters, ruining the simple pleasures of our brave British lads which they’ve enjoyed for over a century.

The tabloids recently went all pious when poor old Wayne Rooney was seen standing around drinking till the early hours at the England team hotel after their win over Scotland. He’d apparently been invited to a wedding that happened to be going on there. What I can’t understand is: why join a wedding party for total strangers? Nothing more boring than someone else’s wedding. Why didn’t he stay in the bar and get smashed?

Even odder was the behaviour of two other England stars, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson. They made a 220-mile round trip from their hotel in Hertfordshire to visit a strip club, For Your Eyes Only, in Bournemouth. Bournemouth! Don’t they have naked women in Herts? I thought one of the points of having all these millions – and a vast office staff employed by your agent – is that anything you want gets fixed for you. Why couldn’t dancing girls have been shuttled into another hotel down the road? Or even to the lads’ own hotel, dressed as French maids?

In the years when I travelled with the Spurs team, it was quite common in provincial towns, after a Saturday game, for players to pick up girls at a local club and share them out.

Like top pop stars, top clubs have fixers who can sort out most problems, and pleasures, as well as smart solicitors and willing police superintendents to clear up the mess afterwards.

The England players had a night off, so they weren’t breaking any rules, even though they were going to play Spain 48 hours later. It sounds like off-the-cuff, spontaneous, home-made fun. In Wayne’s case, he probably thought he was doing good, being approachable, as England captain.

Quite why the other two went to Bournemouth was eventually revealed by one of the tabloids. It is Lallana’s home town. He obviously said to Jordan Henderson, “Hey Hendo, I know a cool club. They always look after me. Quick, jump into my Bentley . . .”

They spent only two hours at the club. Henderson drank water. Lallana had a beer. Don’t call that much of a night out.

In the days of Jimmy Greaves, Tony Adams, Roy Keane, or Gazza in his pomp, they’d have been paralytic. It was common for players to arrive for training still drunk, not having been to bed.

Peter Crouch, the former England player, 6ft 7in, now on the fringes at Stoke, came out with one of the wittiest football lines. When asked what he thought he would have been but for football, he replied: “A virgin.”

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 01 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Age of outrage