Liz Kendall MP: Conference is more than a showcase for the party leader
As you read this, I'll be on my way to Manchester for Labour's annual conference, writes Leicester West MP Liz Kendall. It's a time when party members, councillors and activists from across the country come together to discuss the key issues in their communities and what Labour should do to address them.
The only thing most people see of conference – if anything at all – is a clip of the party leader's speech on TV.
The speech is an important opportunity for the leader to set out what they believe in, their vision for the country, and their plans for the future.
But conference is about far more than this.
SUNDAY OPEN BUFFET EAT AS MUCH AS U CAN £6.99PP & A LA CARTE...View details
Come & Try our Delicious Menu with an Amazing 15% off all Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Terms: Lebanese & Mediterenian Menu With An Amazing 15% Off Your Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Contact: 0116 2169184
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
One of the things I like best is all the fringe meetings you can go to. These are events with three or four speakers, followed by an often lively discussion and questions and answers from the audience.
In Manchester there will be fringe meetings on any and every subject under the sun: how we can improve childcare services; what should be done to support small businesses and help people get the education, skills and training they need; the steps we need to take to protect our environment; and the best way to make our streets safe and tackle anti-social behaviour.
These are all issues that really matter to us in Leicester, so one of my jobs this week will be to attend a range of fringe events and explain my constituents' experiences, views and concerns.
I'll also be speaking at several events in my national role as the shadow minister for care and older people.
Of course, I'll be talking about the impact the Government's terrible decisions are having on the NHS and local care services. However, I will also be spelling out what Labour would do if we were in Government.
Everywhere I go, both here in Leicester and nationally, I see the fantastic work, dedication and commitment of NHS and social care staff.
But I also see the challenges, many of which existed even before the current economic crisis.
The biggest of these is how we help people live healthier lives by preventing avoidable illnesses and supporting people to stay fit and independent for as long as possible.
This isn't just better for individuals and their families, it also saves the taxpayer money by reducing the need for more expensive hospital or residential care.
The way we do this is by shifting the focus of local services into the community and at home and by properly joining up local NHS and council services so they're one seamless system. We also need to support people to take more control and responsibility for their own health.
Instead of concentrating on these issues, the Government has wasted two years and billions of pounds on a reckless back-room NHS reorganisation.
People want to know there is an alternative – on the economy and the future of our public services. That's what I and my Labour colleagues will be discussing in Manchester next week.