There was a time when the annual conference of a major political party was an event where parties with millions of signed up members would at least attempt to mingle with their followers. Even lesser parties might have a membership of hundreds of thousands.
Now even the major parties cannot summon up enough members to rival the followers of a famous cyclist on his social media link. Once it was a privilege and honour to be deputised to attend by your local party . Now it is either a tiresome intrusion into a busy life or perhaps the chance for a binge and bonk weekend.
Radio listeners or TV viewers might have been interested but now as soon as the news screen shifts onto a conference in between a fashion show or gruesome murder or natural disaster the populace hits the remote control to go to a sports or other channel.
The media does the coverage out of duty and to keep the politicians happy and maybe because it is for them the village gossip. For most of us it is now a strange and other world where people we largely dislike and distrust caper for our attention.
Apart from being seen with or among the great and the good, or rather too often the greedy and the gross and theoretically conferring and consulting these events were usually something of a fiction. But over time they moved on from being an internal exercise to one that became much more of an external media show, a palace of political varieties.
With it arrived all the agenda and content management, the spin, the stunts and the urgent need to try to command the lead stories in the press and on the TV news, For a short period it had some sort of sentient life but this is now long past.
The arrival of 24/7 news coverage, the availability of other sources and ready international news all began to impact. Now the web and the net are assuming greater importance. The time of the party conference accordingly is over, it is now almost a political heritage item.
So it has now almost retreated into being largely an internal event where the leading elements struggle for coverage and power among a declining, ageing group of followers who in effect are the local government and agency end of the business.
There has always been an element of exclusiveness and air of superiority in the UK political class. Often this barely covered their contempt for the ordinary voter.
Now it is becoming all too obvious and the party conference is a time to tell people what their governors want, not for the people to have some sort of minimal influence.
We call ourselves a democracy and are prepared to use this as an excuse for bombing and blasting other states. Yet the UK is now falling far short of being a democracy and holding party conferences in the way they are run is an all too obvious sign of this.
Just how many people now outside the Westminster Village take this kind of variety show seriously? The disaster is that the politicians see this capering as real politics.
Most of us see it as low farce.