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Party conferences… dull speeches, foul wine, but great head massages

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The party conference season is upon us. I sense your excitement, dear reader. For us political obsessives, such events are as unmissable as they are dreadful.

Sadly, this year’s conferences will be more subdued than usual. We begin this weekend with the Liberal Democrats. Online only, it will not have anyone attending, although that does not make things hugely different from normal.

Labour and the Conservatives are meeting in-person, while allowing people to watch the action via Zoom if sufficiently desperate. Even among the double-jabbed, the normally packed-out hotel bars might be quieter this year.

I smile wistfully when I hear political commentators, their personal pain over, heralding the Conservatives’ gathering as the “end of the conference season”.

See you at the Northern Ireland ones, folks. They run deep into the year. By the time you get to the DUP’s event, the hotel Christmas decorations can be up.

Big conferences are money-spinners for the UK-wide parties. They don’t come cheap. My observer badge for the Conservatives this year, at the “cut-price” university-as-a-charity rate, offering no change from £225. That’s a lot of money to hear Liz Truss.

You get to interact with the infamous, the hangers-on and the timewasters, sip undrinkable wine, scoff curling sandwiches and occasionally, just occasionally, listen to some worthwhile political debates.

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