Public Affairs: Soap Box - Ralph Jackson, director and interim head of public affairs, Lansons

Bigger, brighter, and buoyant? Not a new political party slogan but my perhaps cautious assessment of the mood and climate surrounding the Conservative Party conference this week in Birmingham.

It seemed more buoyant than the Liberal Democrats, with a definite mood that may come with the confidence of the majority party in power, but was also a likely response to the definite 'One Nation bounce' Ed Miliband achieved last week.

It was also brighter with delegates and party faithful alike resplendent in many shades of blue, but the mood was upbeat too, somewhat surprisingly given the poll standings.

Lobbyists were there in good numbers, with most of the senior players and agencies providing briefings and dinners for clients, and reporting good dealings.

Ministers were aplenty and appeared relaxed at the impromptu meetings that we have to be so good at casually achieving. The ICC works better than the Manchester venue for this.

And it was arguably the biggest event of the three - though all have been noticeably smaller this year. Despite this, the business sector was in attendance with lots of disparate fringes for everyone, including several put on by PR firms, Lansons included.

There were plenty of speeches but little new policy, with the repeated rhetoric of 'we are all in it together' always evident.

The Prime Minister rallied the troops for a fresh assault on those polls. He and others said the job of Government is a marathon not a sprint, and after the past three weeks, lobbyists would wearily agree.

So are conferences good value in the lobbying calendar? Yes, just, I would say, but not for long. Despite the alleged lack of appeal of these mid-term events, many are here but the trend, I feel, is in decline - and it's not just tiredness speaking.

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