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Listen to grassroots’ warning

PUBLISHED: 17:14 23 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:10 25 August 2010

POLITICIANS have warned Labour to get back to its roots ahead of the party conference this weekend.

POLITICIANS have warned Labour to get back to its roots ahead of the party conference this weekend.

It was Tony Blair's courting of the middle classes which won New Labour the 1997 election but now Labour politicians are warning that the party should address its traditional voters.

As Brighton bed-and-breakfast owners triple their rates ahead of the city hosting the conference from Sunday until next Thursday, the Times asks politicians from the area what they would like to hear from the speakers' platform. Labour parliamentary candidate for Erith and Thamesmead Teresa Pearce has been going to party's conferences since 1987. She said: "The thing I want most is them to listen to the ordinary delegates, hear voices from the floor and what is happening in the country. Members are the lifeblood of the party. I am interested in hearing from pressure groups such as Age Concern.

"That is what my conference is going to be like. There will be big speeches but you can watch them on television.

"They do need to listen to the people who are queuing in the post office and at bus stops.

"The policies are there. Once you have been in government for a long time you are seen as the establishment and people look to someone new who comes along who has more spark.

"I don't want to see a lot of members of the cabinet posturing as future leaders. It is not the time.

"That is what happened last year."

Leader of the Labour Party on Bromley Council John Getgood said: "I want to see a focus on those issues which define us as different from the Tories. We believe in intervention, social justice and opportunity for all.

"The great disparity in incomes between the poorest and highly-rewarded executives needs to be tackled to bring about a fairer society.

"Tax rates for the very highest earners can be increased to provide the greater support needed for those less fortunate.

"Above all, I want to see the Labour Party come out of the conference in a mood of confidence. I want it to show up the shallowness and incompetence of a Tory Party that still pursues policies of favouring the wealthy while damning the poor.

"I want the party to have the confidence to reconnect with those people who have made up the traditional Labour vote and who need to be persuaded that Labour still holds those core values.

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