Change of stall-holders at this year's Labour conference

There has been a noticeable change in the make-up of stall-holders at the Labour Party conference this year, with an absence of big business.

Whereas major blue-chip corporations such as Nestle, BAe Systems and BAA have clamoured for positions in the past and have been a significant presence at the conference itself, stalls this year have been mostly held by campaign groups, charities and organisations with links to the party.

The lack of corporate representation at this year's conference in Manchester is being seen by some experts as evidence of how little faith big business currently has in the future of Gordon Brown's government. One reason is that it repeats a pattern witnessed at the Conservative Party conference before the stunning Labour victory of 1997. Corporate presence grew with the party's popularity and at one point stalls spilled into a second hall.

Firms present at this year's conference include the Post Office, the Nuclear Industry Association and O2. Labour insists it has sold more exhibition stands than it did in 2007.

Labour is currently struggling with calls for a leadership contest.

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