Labour Party conference organisers have been accused of squeezing out small social action groups – hoping to influence MPs and their advisers – from holding fringe meetings with exorbitant charges.
After attempting to book a room for a Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East fringe meeting at this years conference in Brighton, Del Singh was told the group would have to pay £2,800 to rent a room for an hour-and-a-half, £475 to rent a microphone for the same period and £5.75 per cup-of-tea.
He was also told he would have to pay £800 corkage for £200 worth of Palestinian Taybeh beer he planned to give out for free.
The Party uses the conference to give access to its movers and shakers in return for much-needed campaign funds. Trade unions have recently warned the Party could lose millions in donations as leader Ed Miliband threatens to break Labour’s historic links with them.
Mr Singh said conference organisers had doubled charges in recent years saying “It’s increasingly becoming a conference for organisations with big bucks and the elites. A charity helping people in debt for example would pay the same as an investment bank to host an event at conference. [There’s] something majorly wrong there. There should be a social rate.”
The high prices means smaller organisations are forced to hold their events outside of the conference away from the MPs and advisers they seek to influence leaving the door open for the well-funded.
LFPME seeks to educate Labour MPs and advisers on Israel’s occupation of Palestine, its illegal settlements, the wall it built on Palestinian land and the consequences on Palestinian economy and its citizens and how government policy can be used to encourage Israel to abide by international law.