IT'S time for a rethink on the Labour Party Conference, an MP said today.
Wakefield Labour MP David Hinchliffe said: "It speaks volumes when you get more people watching Richard Whiteley on Countdown than the Prime Minister."
He spoke of how political parties now stage-managed their conferences more than ever.
Mr Hinchliffe said: "We had Baldrick in the chair, Bono on the podium, videos with every major speeches and ministers on couches.
"For someone used to the days of boring boilermakers and endless speeches, it's a bit of a contrast.
"Some people might say it's a good thing the way things are done now and that the tensions of previous years aren't on display.
"But at least the debates of the past showed that we are a democratic party which does have differences."
Mr Hinchliffe, who is standing down at the next election, said it was encouraging that at least the Red Flag was sung at the end of the conference.
"I'm not sure people know the words, but it is the party anthem," said the MP.
* Meanwhile, at the conference in Brighton, the Prime Minister avoided a damaging defeat over pulling troops out of Iraq after winning the backing of the big trade unions.
* Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott launched a fierce attack on pro-hunt protesters who picketed the conference earlier this week.
"Why do they always want to kill animals? I say to the fox-hunters: you live in a parliamentary democracy, you lost the argument, now respect what is to be the law of the land."