Yesterday, I spoke at a fringe event which was discussing the job of an MP. I was the only non MP on the panel (not that IT BOTHERS ME).
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. Unfortunately, as usual at this conference the MPs are notable by their absence. Obviously I don't have the figures (to use FACTS would be too much to expect) but I am quite happy to make a guess to illustrate my general point.
Yes, it is expensive to attend a party conference, especially if you can't stick it on expenses any more, and Birmingham is a shit hole.
Next year, perhaps the whips might like to encourage the flock to attend. With cudgels . It would be appreciated by the party workers who worked so hard to get the MPs elected in the first place (though not the ones who worked with me in Norfolk, 2005, lazy, incompetent bastards) though it would mean less free food for Eric Pickles.