Since fiery Joe Eyre, the CLA leader, had to remain conciliatory and presidential this year, the conference was forced to look elsewhere for radical inspiration. And where better than Liverpool? Terry Bartlett, one of the city's sacked dockers, duly obliged and more than fulfilled his threat that "I could go on for hours".
Bartlett confessed to some surprise that he found himself addressing an audience of college lecturers. "I'm more used to talking to ordinary people, " he remarked.
He did not just have the Liverpool port employers in his sights. The Transport and General Workers Union is no great shakes either, it seems. "It's an unofficial dispute and I'm glad about that," Bartlett declared. "If it had been an official dispute, we would have been done in by the T and G in the first week."
Surely this anti-leadership rhetoric could not have been the CLA's reason for asking him to speak?