There are the trade bodies, the professions’ alliances, the Private Finance Initiative companies. There are the privatised utilities, the more go-ahead charities or “Third Sector” as they demand to be called, and then the foreign observers. A few would-be parliamentary candidates attend, agreeing madly with everyone they meet. But for the most part, as figures from the Conservativehome.com website this week showed, the conference-goers are what we might loosely call “trade”: suited smoothies who press business cards into the palms of passers-by, dispensing trinkets, sweet-meats and whispers that “we must do lunch”.With fewer than 1% of the UK electorate being members of any of the three big parties they have become so disconnected from the ordinary voter that they survive only through funding from the corporates; remote, metropolitan, Statist and exclusive, these private clubs will nevertheless make a case this Autumn for stealing even more tax money to prop-up their bankrupt structures. Quentin Letts has seen the reality, and it's not pretty;
This conference season I stood in one drinks party and looked across a large room in which perhaps 400 people were gathered. It included some of the most senior politicians in the land. The fug was fetid with alcohol, sweat, self-serving gossip and ambition. The TV cameras might once have captured the scene but they were banned. If the electors of Britain had seen that room, I seriously doubt they would have voted for any of these parties again.