The historic change was overshadowed by the Blair-Brown battle but Labour's High Command conceded that people in Northern Ireland can join the party - for the first time since 1924.
They did this under duress because they faced certain defeat in the courts at the hands of a GMB shop steward at Shorts, Andy McGivern.
The GMB strongly supported him and the charge that those who support ending the ban are closet unionists is somewhat belied by the full name of the GMB General Secretary, Kevin Barry Curran.
McGivern claimed that refusal to allow party membership amounted to racial discrimination.
Labour didn't have a legal leg to stand on and feared that it would be taken to the cleaners for between £250-500,000.
There was considerable resistance in the run-up to conference. A network of groups associated with former Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary Kevin McNamara had organised a "council of war" to keep the ban.
The Labour Party General Secretary David Triesman had received dossiers about who had said what at this or that meeting over the years. These haven't been released so we don't know how dodgy they are.
The pro-nationalist and officially affiliated Labour Party Irish Society wanted to oppose the change but, like many, conceded reality and swallowed hard.
The party organised the debate immediately after Tony Blair's key-note speech and inevitably the hall was occupied by constitutional anoraks only. The vote was 9-1 in favour.
This was made easier by the party's insistence that membership will not lead to Labour constituency parties or candidates.
The party could not accept members and then bar organisation and candidates in Northern Ireland alone or it could be accused of further discrimination. So its rule change gives the leadership the power to decide if there should be constituency organisation or candidates in any part of the UK.
Technically this means that Blair could dispense with all constituency parties. As if the thought had even crossed his mind. But it's directed at the North only. Labour appears to have promised the SDLP that the line will be held, although Alex Attwood appeared supremely unconcerned about the impact on the SDLP but feared that it would hit the PUP vote.
Triesman told me that “I don't want to find that we have stumbled into the internal politics of Northern Ireland in an unintelligent, clodhopping way. I don't want to lose the old friendships between organisations which have been extremely important to us and have stood the test of time.”
The former Northern Ireland Minister Lord Alf Dubs told the Ulster Unionist reception that he would not be associated with “political suicide” if the party stood candidates in the North.
Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside, on the other hand, believes that the large public sector and trade union movement, especially in Belfast “should give Labour a tremendous opportunity” and that “the big selling point is Westminster seats because if humpty-dumpty's not put together at Stormont again you'll have a concentration on Westminster and local government. It's an opportunity too for what used to be called integrationism.”
Fear of integrationism has been a major part of the case against membership rights and there is still a large consensus against going any further.
Labour's reluctant concession was illustrated by the refusal to allow the BBC's Mark Devenport to film people handing in their membership applications in Bournemouth.
But there remains an almost inexorable logic that once members start joining, there will be a demand for organising and contesting elections.
The nascent party needs to demonstrate that they are not some lunatic rump and can bring something positive to the wider party.
The fledgling party could also seek a working relationship with the SDLP and Irish Labour Party, which has already established a forum in the North but won't stand candidates.
The Irish Labour Party General Secretary, Mike Allen was in Bournemouth and told me he was looking at how the three parties that take members in Northern Ireland and are part of the European Socialists and the Socialist International can work together.
“If you join the student's union in Queen's University, you're automatically a member of the USI and the NUS. You don't have a choice about your allegiance and that's taken out of the picture. And much the same is true of the trade union movement. Will such a model allow us to build an alliance of social democracy and labourism which deflates and sidesteps the question of constitutional and sectarian allegiance?”
But others acknowledge that the SDLP has a strong Christian Democrat tinge and wouldn't be particularly interested in social democratic alliances because it has to maintain diplomatic relations with both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. However, SDLP stalwart Brid Rodgers angrily rejected the charge made by Baroness May Blood that the SDLP were “Green Tories.”
The Irish peace-processors in Bournemouth included senior figures such as Trimble, Martin McGuinness and Mark Durkan. The Irish Embassy organised its usual reception. The Ulster Fry breakfast bash convened the morning after and was packed with diplomats, ministers, Irish visitors and those looking for a hang-over cure. It has become a congenial venue for the different tribes. The Irish Ambassador Daithi O'Ceallaigh told the bacon and soda bread brigade that he was very familiar with Bournemouth, having once been a bus conductor there.
Whether Bournemouth rings the bell for a vibrant Labour Party in the North depends on how campaigners behave and if they can build credibility with suspicious members in Great Britain and the rest of Ireland.
So far, they have only been allowed a half fare on the Labour bus but they could be forgiven for thinking that “our day will come.”