Yesterday, I spoke at a Hansard Sciety/Institute of Government fringe which was discussing the job of an MP. I was the only non MP on the panel, which was very entertainingly chaired by Lord Adonis. Nick Boles, Mary Macleod, Sir George Young, Andrew Tyrie and Stephen Dorrell were the other speakers.
One point I made which the audience seemed to agree with, was that MPs are elected as representatives of their own party and as such owed their party a duty to attend their party conference. It's the one time of the year the party's grassroots has a chance to mix with and quiz MPs. Unfortunately, as usual at this conference the MPs are notable by their absence. Obviously I don't have the figures, but I doubt whether much more than a third of the parliamentary party have put in an appearance in Birmingham -certainly no more than a half. I reckon it was the same at Labour last week. LibDem MPs have a much higher proportion attending their conference as they are more noticeable if they don't.
Yes, it is expensive to attend a party conference, but it's the same for ordinary representatives.
Net year, perhaps the whips might like to gently encourage their flock to attend. It would be appreciated by the party workers who worked so hard to get the MPs elected in the first place.