More than three decades after the ICC was erected on Westside, business leader MIKE OLLEY asks why the Labour Party has never held its conference here.
When we first built the ICC, there was a massive expectation by the city leaders that Birmingham would attract the Labour Party annual conference. That was 32 years or more ago. We successfully built, and Labour have never come.
I was part of that city leadership all those years ago. I may have been in short trousers, spotty and ignored by the more senior figures, but I was there. I even got my name on the opening plaque. That, I’ve proudly shown to all of my four kids. None of them are particularly interested, but I was there.
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I do recall Neil Kinnock as leader of the Labour Party, attending the then named National Indoor Arena, for a very grand performance of Aida. He sat immediately in front of me. It was a wonderful, splendid night, so energetic. Unfortunately, even that didn’t persuade Labour to bring their annual conference to Birmingham, as we had high expectations it would.
Well come on Labour Party, isn’t it about time, conference in Brum? We almost built the ICC exclusively for you! I’m not sure if the Labour Party have heard, but we did handle, amazingly well, the Commonwealth Games recently. National party conferences really are a doddle.
Indeed, the Conservatives, well they come to Brum pretty often. We had them last year and what’s more, we are welcoming them again for their Spring Conference this weekend. That’s a real vote of confidence in Brum, from the Tories.
We genuinely get to welcome the Tories every other year, and long may it be. I know I speak for almost every glass collector, bar keep, chamber maid and all in saying that. We really do welcome them again, this weekend.
So come on Labour, “conference in Brum”! You may have a lead in the polls, but your miles behind in your appreciation of our great city and region.