above: signed ticket from the convention
In 1996, Paul Flynn invited his close parliamentary friend Tony Banks MP (Newham North West then West Ham) to a Chartist Convention in the Ballroom of the Westgate Hotel. Around 150 people attended and the speakers included. Paul and Tony as well as Rodney Bickerstaffe, (General Secretary of Unison TU,) Roy Hughes MP, (Newport East), Don Touhig MP,( Islwyn,) Huw Edwards MP, (Monmouth.)
The meeting took place in the Ballroom of the Westgate Hotel. Sam Flynn wife of the Late Newport West MP Paul Flynn remembers it well. Tony Banks she said, despite his fearsome reputation in the House of Commons was not a fan of public meetings and as the guest speaker followed Rodney Bickerstaffe to the stage.
Sam writes" The event was excellent. It was a good old fashioned packed meeting. There were several excellent speakers with Tony at the top of the list. Bickerstaffe was the penultimate speaker. Most of the audience had not heard him address a public meeting. He was brilliant. Funny and caustic in equal proportions and received loud applause and laughter. Tony did not want to follow him. He was terrified (as usual) and had to be persuaded. He need not have worried. After a slightly nervous start he settled down and captivated the audience with his clever mix of humour and acerbity. We went home to our house, drank his favourite champaign and watched his team,Chelsea win a recorded match."
Chartist Convention at the Westgate Hotel Newport 02 November 1996