The fact I'm writing about this says more about our media than the so called 'authoritarianism' in the Labour Party. Security was over-zealous, and didn't use 'common sense' when confronted with an elderly man, that it all the story is.
We all know that debate at Labour Party conferences has been suppressed for a long time. And we all know why that is the case. Unfortunately we know that to win elections we have the play the media's game of 'showing unity'. None of us like it, but we swallow hard and leave the debate to behind closed doors or independent rants on websites.
What Walter Wolfgang did, shows that there IS still some democracy left in the Labour party. The Tory conference happens this week and they will doubtless make some comments about the treatment of Walter. They know in advance that no-one will challenge their speakers, their elderly audience wouldn't dream of interupting. Debate has NEVER been a part of the Tory party. Is this not worse than the situation Labour are in?
We also have to ask ourselves, what if everyone in the audience was like Walter Wolfgang? There has to be some respect for speakers, or the whole conference would descend into chaos. The talk of the manipulation of the agenda to avoid debate on Iraq and other contentious issues is beside the point, that is another argument, nothing to do with Walter's ejection.
The focus of the media on this issue is ironic because the fact that someone did have the nerve to heckle, shows open debate is still alive (albeit suppressed). The irony is the Tories will be shown as more fitting of the media model, when open debate in their party has never occurred.
I was at the Labour fringe meetings last week and debate was refreshing and open, but the media never report from these events, in fact it is good they don't because politicians wouldn't feel so free to speak openly. The real travesty of democracy is that it is the media (helped by the electoral system) that is suppressing debate in this way with their biased and misleading coverage of events.