One sharp-suited young man leaving the Labour Party conference session on 25 September shook his head in disgust at a comrade offering him a leaflet from the Labour Party Democracy Task Force, a group set up to win real life and decision-making power for the Party conference.
"After this, I'm getting out of here as soon as I can", he muttered, referring to Ed Miliband's victory in the Labour leadership election.
Shortly afterwards, in the Grass Roots Umbrella Network meeting, left Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins gave the same assessment from the opposite angle: "This is the end of a dark night. This is the end of New Labour".
Trouble is, the New Labour machine is still intact. The great bulk of the pastel-shaded neo-liberal careerist political advisers and assistants, think-tank operatives, media manipulators, and NGO types who have taken over the top levels of the Labour Party since the mid-90s are still there. Few have joined the disgusted leaflet-refuser, John Hutton, and Alan Milburn in quitting.
Many trade unionists coming out of the conference felt boosted and encouraged. "At least the unions managed to get their candidate in"; "It's the best result we could have hoped for".
The general "feel" of the crowd coming out of conference - as measured, for example, by its willingness to take left-wing leaflets and buy left-wing papers - was more open, confident, and leftish than in recent years, though still, of course, an order of magnitude less so than before the great neo-liberal counter-offensive in the Labour Party between the mid-80s and mid-90s.
Even the delegates most pleased by Ed Miliband's victory seemed aware that what Ed Miliband's prominent backers among MPs are saying is true: politically, Ed Miliband is within the New Labour mainstream, different only in shadings from David Miliband. He gave virtually no hard commitments during his leadership campaign.
The significance of his victory is that, instead of having a new leader with an open, hard commitment to Blairite continuity, Labour now has one open to pressure from the unions and the Party rank and file as well as from the apparatchiks and the media people. We should demand Miliband's, and the Labour Party's, support for industrial and anti-cuts struggles - but that will not happen through pleading to his 'left-wing' conscience. It will only happen through pressure and organisation from below - and that will mean fighting Miliband and his people every inch of the way.
There are immediate dangers. The hard-Blairite MPs and ex-ministers and Labour officials who sat stony-faced in the conference, pointedly not joining even in routine applause for Ed Miliband's speech, will now put immense pressure on him to "give guarantees" that he will not "move the party to the left" and offer proofs that he is "not in the pocket of the unions".
They will find many weaknesses to play on. For example, questioned on party funding by the Financial Times (24 September) and by the Left Foot Forward blog (9 September), Ed Miliband talked about wanting to "make progress on party funding together with other parties".
That is code for the Hayden Phillips proposals: a legal ban on collective union money for the Labour Party, on any large scale, "compensated for" by state funding.
David Miliband, surprisingly, gave the Financial Times a clear rejection of Hayden Phillips and a clear commitment to keep Labour's union link.
Don't celebrate - or, rather, celebrate without any naivety. Organise!