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27 September 1999

Conference quiz – Who, what, when and where?

Robert Taylor invites you to test your knowledge of Labour conferences

By Robert Taylor

1 Where was the founding conference of the Labour Representation Committee held and when?

2 Who told which conference that Labour had grown out of the “bowels” of the union movement? Whom was he criticising?

3 “What sort of people do you think we are? Do you think we can simply accept a decision of this kind?” Who said that, at which conference and about what?

4 Who said “shut yer gob” at which party conference and why?

5“Whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.” Who said that when, and whom was he quoting?

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6 “Those of us who are human in our hearts and have got all the weaknesses of human hearts have lost a companion like unto ourselves whose place will never be filled.” Who said that about whom, where and with what effect?

7 Who accused whom of a “stab in the back”, when and why?

8 Who said socialism would be achieved through “the inevitability of gradualness”? And when did he say it?

9 In which resort, when and in which hotel did the national executive decide the party should enter a new government under a new prime minister?

1O When did the party have to reconvene its annual conference in the same year and why?

11 Who was supposed to have said, but denied it, that he intended to squeeze the rich until their pips squeaked and at which party conference? Whom was the speaker quoting when he used those words?

12 “I object to these attacks on the trade unions and the TUC. We want unity, not splitting attacks like this!” Who said this about whom, where and when?

13 “We are not here just to manage capitalism.” Who said that and when, and what happened to him less than nine months later?

14 “The philosophy of the pig trough – those with the biggest snouts get the biggest share.” Who said that, when and about what?

15 “A bully, rampaging round like a rogue elephant, arrogant, ambitious and suicidal in his efforts to sabotage the Labour Party.” Who said that about whom?

16 “Keep her facing it. They may say what they like, but the heaviest seas run with the wind. Facing it – always facing it – that’s the way to get through.” Who said that, when and whom was he quoting?

17 When did the party first hold its annual conference in Blackpool and when was the second occasion?

18 When and where did the party first change the way it elected its leader, and what happened on the following day?

19 In what year did the conference agree that constituency parties should be allowed both to nominate and elect seven representatives to the NEC without other party sections participating?

20 Where were one in five of all Labour conferences held in the party’s first 50 years?


Answers

1 Memorial Hall, London, 27-28 February 1900.

2 Ernest Bevin, 1935; George Lansbury’s pacifism.

3 Hugh Gaitskell, Scarborough, 1960, about the pending decision to commit the party to unilateral nuclear disarmament.

4 Will Lawther, miners’ leader, Morecambe, 1952, when interrupted by irate left-wing delegates.

5 Harold Wilson, Scraborough, 1963 quoting from Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

6 Ramsay MacDonald, Llandudno, 1930, on the death of Lord Thomson, secretary of state for air. His emotional language was said by his biographer David Marquand to have “created an atmosphere in which criticism must have seemed almost tantamount to blasphemy”. It ensured the narrow defeat of Oswald Mosley’s attempt to win support for his counter-attack on the government’s economic policy.

7 Ernest Bevin, foreign secretary, Margate, 1947, about left-wingers who voted against his Palestine policy in the Commons.

8 Sidney Webb as chairman to the 1923 conference.

9 Bournemouth, at the Highcliff hotel in May 1940 .

10 In 1918 to endorse a new constitution, after it had been narrowly referred back.

11 Denis Healey, shadow chancellor, 1973, Blackpool. He said he was quoting Tony Crosland who in turn had taken the words from a remark reputedly made by Lloyd George about property speculators.

12 Jack Jones, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers union, about Ian Mikardo, MP, Brighton, 1975, at a Tribune fringe meeting.

13 Tony Benn, industry secretary, 1974. He was moved to the energy department in a cabinet reshuffle.

14 Sidney Weighell, rail union leader, Blackpool, 1978, on trade union attitudes to pay bargaining.

15 Woodrow Wyatt, 1960, about Frank Cousins, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers.

16 Michael Foot, 1977; Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon.

17 1927, but not again until 1945.

18 Wembley, January 1981. Next day David Owen, Shirley Williams and Bill Rodgers launched the Council for Social Democracy, forerunner of the SDP.

19 1937.

20 London.

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