A very small part of me would like to be in Manchester for the Labour party conference. A friend reports that the place is "buzzing" following the election of Ed Miliband as party leader. And this evening I could have attended one of the best parties in town (see above).
The truth is, though, I have grown disillusioned with Labour conferences. For groups such as Forest it really is a case of banging your head against a brick wall. But it wasn't always like that.
In Brighton in 2004 Joe Jackson was invited, via Forest, to share a platform with Health Secretary John Reid and we actually dared to think that we were influencing Government policy. Reid clearly listened to what we were saying because a few weeks later he gave some weight to smokers' rights when he announced plans for a partial smoking ban.
Back in Brighton the following year we enjoyed what I can only describe as the most satisfying day of my professional career. I won't bore you with the story again because I've written about it ad nauseum, but thinking it about it still makes me laugh.
Despite our "success" at the 2005 Brighton conference, it was becoming increasingly difficult to engage with Labour on any level. In 2006 in Manchester we employed an ad van but to little effect.
In Bournemouth in 2007, a few months after the introduction of the smoking ban, we organised a drinks reception at the Royal Bath Hotel (scene of our famous Prohibition party at the 2006 Conservative conference). The event attracted a hundred or so delegates but none of them were MPs and I suspect that many were there only for the "free" champagne.
In any case I was already highly cynical about Labour and champagne receptions. In 2003 in Bournemouth I remember very clearly a Cabinet minister telling me, with a straight face whilst holding (another) glass of champagne that he was a libertarian and was opposed to a smoking ban. Three years later the same man (a close ally of Gordon Brown) voted in favour of a comprehensive ban on smoking in pubs and clubs. Libertarian? My arse.
In 2008, the last time Labour was in Manchester, we arranged a fringe meeting but the party failed to publish details of the event in the conference brochure. The same fate befell a Tobacco Retailers Alliance event. Coincidence? I think not.
Last year in Brighton we hired another ad van and handed out Save Our Pubs & Clubs beer mats but our efforts were wasted on what I can only describe as a dispirited rabble. Labour was past caring about social and civil liberties. And Forest was past caring about Labour.
Whether Ed Miliband's election will make any difference I don't know. I do know that Forest will never give up trying to engage with any mainstream political party, and that includes Labour. To paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger, "We'll be back."
Actually, we haven't completely neglected Labour this year. The conference issue of the New Statesman, available to delegates, features the new Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign poster (below right). However hard they try to ignore us, we just won't go away.