Residents of Brighton & Hove are familiar with the impact of Political Party Conferences. These events are a great opportunity for Restaurants and Hotels to extend the Summer period by a week, especially if the Party concerned is one of the two larger ones, and more so if the Party the Party of Government. This is as much because of the Press, advisers and lobbyists as it is because of the Politicians themselves. Following the attempted murder of Margaret Thatcher here in Brighton in 1984, security has been stepped up to the extent that at all Major Conferences, a cordon of steel and metal detectors is set up that isolates the Party faithful from the rest of the City. Whilst this makes the situation within the cordon much more relaxed than would be the case if no such cordon was in place and the cost of policing these events is much lower as a consequence, the impact on democracy is very detrimental. In reality the only people who can afford to enter this secure village are the Politicians and a few Party members along with lobbyists and advisers. It also means that any of the fringe meetings that take place within the village cannot be attended by people who are not delegates.
With the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Party leader, and the decision taken several years ago to come to Brighton this Autumn, one wonders if the idea of this ‘man of the people’ being trapped behind this ring of security is really consistent with the message he has been presenting to those of us who are interested in Politics, yet not members of any of the Parties? Perhaps Jeremy could be the one to challenge this unhelpful symbol of isolation?