I have to admit that I didn't enjoy the Sheffield Conference. The iron curtain drawn around the venue, the hassle of avoiding demonstrators (not that there were anywhere near as many of them as had been threatened). It felt deeply uncomfortable but, at least, the security was efficient and friendly enough, and Ros and I had to be there so that she could hand over the gavel and the copy of 'On Liberty' to young Mr Farron.
I was looking forward to Birmingham even less. Without any real purpose for being there, with the prospect of even greater security, and having seen the cost of conference hotels, it did cross my mind that I didn't actually have to go. And, of course, I don't.
But now that it becomes apparent that I might not be able to go anyway, I do wonder if I really want to bother at all. When I applied for a spouse pass for the House of Lords, my application was delayed for further checks - it's a long story, and quite a dull one, so you'll pardon me if I don't go into details. If the checks for Federal Conference are of a similar nature, they make take some time, and the temptation would be to refuse me on the grounds of caution.
It is unlikely that I will be refused accreditation, I admit, but it is possible that friends or acquaintances may be, and I'm uncomfortable about condoning such a possibility, indeed I am angered by the notion that the Greater Manchester Police should have the power to decide who may, or may not, attend our Party Conferences.
And yes, there are those who suggest that this is merely a by-product of our Party's accession to government, and that the concerns shown by a number of people whom I like and respect are overblown. However, it is a principle of liberalism that the State shall not interfere with our legitimate freedoms without just cause, and I am yet to be reassured that the case has been made.
It is not an easy time to be a liberal in politics, and a squabble which leads us to question the very principles we believe in hardly makes things easier.
However, on the positive side, I am led to believe that a full explanation is forthcoming from Andrew Wiseman, the Chair of the Federal Conference Committee, and as I know Andrew to be a decent, John Stuart Mill-fearing liberal, I'm happy to await his comments before I make a personal decision on whether or not to attend.