Bipolar conference disorder

I love conference. I love the chance to go somewhere I wouldn’t normally visit and meet up with thousands of like minded people. I love going to the Glee Club to discover that I’m not the first person to be attacked by a letterbox, and that in fact it’s such a common problem they wrote a song about it!

I hate conference. I hate travelling miles on terrible trains to expensive seaside resorts infested with nerdy obsessive types. The wretched Glee Club, filled with drunk crusties moaning discordantly about letterboxes and dogs is just the last straw!

I love conference. There’s so much to see and do and learn from the vast numbers of talented people who make up our party. There’s training on every subject under the sun and hundreds of new ideas to take home and share with colleagues.

I hate conference. Far too much happens, so I spend ages worrying about what I’m missing. There are bright young things but they seem worryingly divorced from reality. And the training? It all sounds like a good idea, but it would never work in my constituency.

I love conference. I like going to sit in the conference hall to hear the policy debates. I don’t have enough good ideas of my own to contribute to policy-making, but it’s fascinating to see clever people come to a consensus or even have a blazing row, and I learn a lot, and it changes my mind.

I hate conference. Sitting in the policy debates in the main hall just makes me groan and shudder with horror. These are clever people – can’t they see they’re just inventing sticks to beat us with? All these policies might seem like a good idea at the time, but just think what the Tories are going to put in their leaflets about it! And I try and
use all these clever arguments at home with my friends, and they just get shot down in flames.

I love conference – just ending up in a bar at the end of the day with famous and infamous people chewing the fat and setting the world to rights is so important to me. Who cares if you find yourself wandering home at dawn with a thick head when you’ve spent so much time with people you care about? Who cares if the accommodation isn’t quite perfect?

I hate conference – I hate having to spend cash I haven’t got buying overpriced drinks for the self-important just on the offchance some bon-mot might drop from their lips. I’m hungover, feel awful, exhausted from schlepping along the seafront to foetid, lousy digs with creaking beds, not enough room to swing a cat, and no hot water.

I love conference. At the end of the day, it’s about the people. The numbers of people who care enough about this country to invest their time in working to make it a better place by active involvement in the political process just give me a warm glow inside. It’s wonderful to come back year after year and check in with the same friends and see how they are growing and developing and nurturing the party in their area.

I hate conference. There’s just people, people everywhere, and I can’t cope. There’s nowhere to go to escape all the exhausting boundless enthusiasm and noise and mess, nowhere peaceful. I’m the only introvert in a sea of cheering extroversion. I can pretend for a short while, but my energy always runs out eventually. In any meeting at conference there is always one person I would rather never see again who will drone
on at me.

I love conference. Each time I’ve been I’ve gone home feeling better about being a Liberal Democrat, knowing more, feeling more confident, knowing that some day we are destined for great things as we slowly turn the country yellow.

I hate conference. Every single conference I’ve been to has left me feeling like leaving my clothes in a pile on the beach and taking a one-way walk into the sea.

Alex Foster blogs regularly at

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