While it might be a stretch to say that the 2012 Lib Dem conference in Brighton was an unmitigated success, it is hard to come away from the conference without feeling a little better about life and about the party.
Certainly the only consistent low point of the week was being blown sideways by the gales sweeping in from the English Channel. (On reflection I think it may have been a mistake for me to tell friends that the weather is always good in Brighton!)
Of course, there is little doubt that the media will represent the conference as an unmitigated failure, slam Nick Clegg’s leadership and pen not a few patronising articles about the apocalypse which is facing the party at the next general election. When has this not been the case in the last two and a half years?
However, for me, my second conference (and first full one) has reaffirmed the reasons why I voted for this party in the last two general elections and my membership of the party. Of course I do not agree with everything that the party does and nor would I reasonably expect too, but there was one moment which has completely reaffirmed my commitment to this party.
On Wednesday morning delegates passed a policy motion which seeks to address the current under provision in the treatment of people with mental health problems.
Let me speak from personal experience. I am currently suffering from depression and an anxiety condition. On a good day I can function to some kind of normality. On the numerous bad days I am constantly on the point of breaking down, struggle to leave the house, cannot sleep, suffer panic attacks and have constant feelings of anxiety, misery and fear. At its worse the last six months has been nothing short of mental torture.
It is hardly any solace to know that there are many people in this country who are suffering as I am. Yet there is some comfort in knowing that there are people in at least one of the three main parties who understand the devastation mental illness can cause and who want to do something about it. This is in sharp contrast to the Conservative controlled County Council in my home county of Somerset which has been slashing mental health provision because they apparently don’t think that people like me are worth bothering with.
I am fully aware that this motion is unlikely to garner many column inches in the national press and, at the time of writing, I do not know when or if I will get better. However the fact that this motion has been passed has reaffirmed my belief in the Lib Dems and the reasons why I have always, and will continue, to vote for this party.
* Tim Purkiss is a party member from Somerset and blogs at Nation Discussion