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Labour conference starts today in Brighton

Jeremy Corbyn

Labour's conference begins today - its first under its new leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Delegates will head to the Sussex Coast, with the prospect of real debate ahead of them about the direction of the party - and the threat of division between their new leader, and many of the party members. The conference, at the Brighton Centre, will see 11,000 people arrive in the city.

Labour faithful arrive on South Coast


The Labour Party Autumn conference arrives in Brighton today [September 26] but the planning has been underway for a year.

Around 11,000 delegates, exhibitors, media and staff will fill the Brighton Centre and nearby hotels. Sussex Police have mounted "Operation Otter" to safeguard the delegates. All eyes will be on Labour's new leader - elected earlier this month - to see how he is received by the party faithful. Labour have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity since he took control, with tens of thousands of new members.

  1. Phil Hornby, Political Correspondent

UKIP's biggest fight starts now: Phil Hornby at the party conference

Nigel Farage had an unconventional message at his conference in Doncaster today: party interests must come second - the most important thing is the EU referendum.

It was unconventional, but unsurprising. Getting an in/out EU referendum has been UKIP's policy since, as the only journalist there, I started covering their conferences many moons ago.

Back then it seemed pie-in-the-sky. Mentioning EU withdrawal wasn't something that was done in polite society. The BBC, and lots of others, didn't want to know.

How times have changed. UKIP are either on the brink of their greatest ever triumph - or on the brink, maybe, of extinction: if we vote to stay in the EU, the party might just disappear.

UKIP spent half of today trying to fight a ludicrous fire about refugees, caused by, of all people, the columnist Katie Hopkins who somehow found herself inside the conference. It was all good publicity for her new job at the Mail, but UKIP were quick to point out she has nothing to do with them (she voted Tory in May) - and anyway does anyone really care what she claims to think?

The really big question will be the one asked in the referendum, which will be sometime before the end of 2017. It could be as early as next year.

Mr Farage's offer today was to join hands with other "Outers" in a spirit of unity. Not all of them will want to respond enthusiastically - because they don't like him.

But, in a referendum, both sides have to do their best to put tribal loyalties and personal enmities aside and come together for the campaign.

It won't be easy though. For proof of that, I recommend (as an early contender for the best political book of the year) "Project Fear" by the ITV Border political correspondent Joe Pike. It is rivetting and impossible to put down. Everyone involved in the EU referendum - on both sides of the argument - should read it at once.


Longer platforms, longer trains

Start of work to extend platform at Hever Stn Credit: Network Rail

The Tonbridge MP Tom Tugendhat has formally marked the start of a project that will extend twelve station platforms between Edenbridge and Uckfield. The project will allow the introduction of 10-coach trains that will reduce crowding on the Uckfield line and help to meet growing passenger demand. The new longer trains will increase capacity on the line during the morning peak by 50% from July 2016.

Network Rail will build the longer platforms and infrastructure, and Southern Railway will lease, refurbish and run the trains.

“I am pleased that the platform extensions on the Uckfield line are taking place and will be completed soon. This will mean that commuters and other rail users will be able to have a more comfortable journey as trains are able to take extra carriages. Work is now underway and this will be a huge benefit to the local community in providing a better train service. I look forward to the completion of the work early next year”.

– Tom Tugendhat MP
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