Neil Kinnock was in charge the last time I didn't go to Labour's annual conference.
Apart from the bloggers4labour get together, I don't think I missed much. Tom Hamilton gives a good flavour of the conference though.
His focus is on the sheer weight of counter-productive and self-indulgent campaigning that goes on around the fringes.
Now I don't really care if they ban smoking or not. But if the right to light up in pubs is a civil liberty that should be defended, then liberty's enemies are it's incompetent defenders.
One of the most important rules of successful campaigning it to make sure that nutters don't get involved. So, for instance, if you're promoting a cause with lefty credentials, once the SWP decide to support you, you're stuffed. Firstly, they are intentionally terrible campaigners. Their objective is to prove the futility of constitutional politics. Successful campaigns do the opposite.
Secondly, they usually hi-jack one campaign to support another. Realistic campaigns always get sucked into being part of a range of impossible demands.
Now I know that none of this is new. So where is it leading? Like most political observations these days, it's about the war in Iraq.
Whatever you think about that war, you must admit that it is a very poorly-opposed government that is able to send troops off to die in a distant land about which the public care little - particularly at the behest of the Americans.
If the leadership of the anti-war movement was united in the sole aim of actually stopping the war, they could have created a lot more problems for the government than they did.
But that isn't really the aim of a lot of them. In the same way that a low-tax low-welfare economy was partly attributable to Labour's political incompetence in the 1980s, the inability of opponents of the war to make their case effectively is one of the reasons that it happened.
Remember that slogan - 'Not In My Name'?
It's bollocks, isn't it?