Soap box Jon McLeod, chairman, public affairs, Weber Shandwick

The party conference scrum has got to stop.

Soap box: Jon McLeod
Soap box: Jon McLeod

Grumbles at the Liberal Democrats’ conference over its motions being ignored by its ministers in the Government are to be expected.

But the real issue at all three conferences is the madness that surrounds them.

A seething horde of humanity – lobbyists, delegates and media – swarms over the political class for four or five Pinot Grigio-soaked days and nights.

A fortune is spent on policing, and by the parties and delegates on just being there. It’s about £5,000 per person when one rolls the costs up, and one could go on a cruise for that.

And the whole show is put on for the media to impress on the world the self-confidence and sense of direction of the party concerned.

It’s got to stop.

In these hard economic times, the money should be spent on something more productive – investment in training and skills for a start.

MPs should be in their constituencies addressing the real-world concerns of their electorates.

Many in fact are, though I guess this might have something more to do with boundary change jitters.

Party business – one of the original functions of conferences – should be dealt with online.

There is a huge opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of the conferences, which at the moment are conducted in a high consumption series of bubbles, where reams of paper, air conditioning, and food and drink are wastefully applied.

In the meantime, think of me as I thread my way across the sticky hotel carpet of yet another think-tank reception to beard some poor unfortunate about the pressing issue of the day.

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