Posts Tagged ‘party politics’

As party conference season approaches, have these political menageries ever been less relevant?

16/08/2012, 07:00:39 AM

by Peter Watt

So the Olympics are over and the Premier League is about to start (apologies to Scots readers, I know that the SPL has already started).  We have the fantastic Paralympics to look forward to and possibly even a little bit of late summer sun.

But, for the political world the next few weeks are the calm before the conference season madness begins.  Already political obsessives will be beginning to think about their conference itineraries.

The odd invite or two for receptions will have arrived in advance of the tsunami that will hit from early September.  Labour colleagues will be secretly smiling at the excitement of the priorities ballot; they will be wondering about this year’s conference slogan and keeping their fingers crossed about the leader’s speech.  For what it’s worth I predict that the words “fair” and “future” will feature large.

For activists, attending conference is a mix between a holiday and a religious vocation.  Party democracy is revered, the rule book studied, senior politicians are scrutinised and friends socialised with.

Anyone who is anyone makes sure that if they possibly can be there then they are.  People who would never normally willingly forego their middle class comforts are suddenly prepared to sleep on floors and worse if it means that they can attend.  If you can’t be there then you find yourself guiltily justifying yourself by saying “no, but I will definitely be there next year”.

It costs a fortune in travel, accommodation, food and of course booze.  But for a whole week of your life you feel at the centre of the world as the stories that emerge from the conference dominate the news and it’s worth every penny.  And you hungrily devour the news morning, noon and night while you’re there to make sure that the hugely important events that you are witnessing are covered fairly.

Which of course they never are; as while the conference that you are attending is always united friendly and optimistic, those rats from the press insist on reporting splits and rancour.


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