Party conferences resemble beauty contests, that impression heightened by the fact that they follow one another in quick succession, with the contenders strutting their stuff in a bid to attract voters. The public, for the most part, sees only isolated snippets of the action in news items, but since pollsters often record a conference “bounce” – usually minor and temporary – for parties that organise successful gatherings, they cannot be dismissed as wholly irrelevant to the electoral process. Clearly, it is better to have a good conference than a chaotic one, but these meetings are seldom decisive in securing electoral advantage.