The Conference Arrangements Committee, which decides the conference agenda, voted yesterday to reinstate Khan’s speech. It was removed from the programme by the Labour leader’s office, which claimed time constraints made it impossible to for him to address delegates.
Khan made a well-received speech in Liverpool last year emphasising the need for Labour to gain power, which was widely regarded as being critical of Jeremy Corbyn.
The Red Roar revealed on Wednesday that NEC members had protested about the decision at a meeting of Labour’s governing body on Tuesday afternoon.
In a rare moment of discord in what was otherwise a cordial meeting of the 35-strong body, Unison representatives Keith Birch and Wendy Nichols said it was wrong that Labour’s most powerful elected official would not be speaking. They were backed by backbench Labour MP George Howarth.
Keith Vaz MP, who represents Black and Ethnic Minority members on the NEC, said Bristol mayor Marvin Rees should be on the programme. Unlike Khan, Rees will not be given a speaking slot, however. Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham – who also made a well-received speech in Liverpool last year – is not on the programme in Brighton. Andy Street, the Conservative major of the West Midlands, will address the Tory conference.
The decision to reinstate Khan is a minor victory for Labour’s so-called moderates. Although Corbyn did not take part in the debate over Khan at the NEC on Tuesday, it is believed that his office was not in favour of allowing him to appear in Brighton.