Conference diary: 2012 was much of a muchness

Conference season: That's more than enough of that.
Conference season: Thats more than enough of that.'

By Sean Dilley

There's no feeling quite like returning home on the train after the third week of political party conferences - and indeed it's from that train home I write this piece.

The Tories, and for that matter Labour and Lib Dems, will be rightly pleased with their conference, having pulled of a pretty good show in the midst of economic disaster and mid-term blues.

The polls will tell you that David Cameron is as popular as Chlamydia at a swingers party, but he delivered a statesmanlike address to his party in Birmingham - while spreading his call for patience to the country via the TV cameras.


The Lib Dem party conference goers were about the most glum - but even then, most party members and supporters were looking beyond 2015. Labour supporters are finally getting behind Ed - all be it as critical friends in many circumstances. The Tory conference was notable not for David Cameron's detractors, of which there weren't many in the Birmingham ICC, but for his supporters. David Davis said it would be lunacy for backbenchers to try and have the PM removed as party leader and Boris Johnson quite clearly supported - at least apparently - the big D for Britain's economic recovery.

But for gloves-off politics you'll need to look to next year's conferences, when all three parties will have the election - now just 938 days away - in clear view. The economy and Europe will once again dominate, even with the trial of Coulson and Co. happening in the background next September and October.

The phrases "much ado about nothing" and "very much much of a muchness" were two that could reasonably have been predicted for 2012 - but here we are, the other side of conference and party members (of all three parties) seem happy. The fight for 2015 will be aimed towards attracting the "unengaged majority" who will always see Birmingham, Manchester and Brighton as taxpayer-subbed jollies.

Sean Dilley is a political writer and broadcaster. Follow him on Twitter.

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