I SPEAK for myself, but I believe that the reality for those of us who choose to attend party conferences is very different to that perceived by people who merely catch the news reports, and who could be forgiven for imagining that they consist entirely of a strange combination of tedium and viciousness.

Apart from days packed with meetings with pressure groups of one sort or another, the real life of the conference is in the fringe meetings.

In fact, I didn’t go into the main conference hall once for the second year running. I find the set speeches all too predictable and scripted.

On the fringe however, you will find meeting rooms packed with enthusiasts and fizzing with ideas on virtually every aspect of our national life. They overlap and clash, there are simply far too many to attend them all, so you have to prioritise ruthlessly and plan your day carefully.

I managed to fit two housing fringe meetings in last week. That choice was conditioned by my postbag: Overwhelmingly constituents email me to complain about four things; first because they cannot afford to rent in the private sector, indeed that they are often excluded out-of-hand because such is the pressure of demand that many landlords can refuse to even consider tenants who are in receipt of benefits.

Second, that there is insufficient local authority or housing association provision to accommodate them adequately, or at all.

Third, people of my generation with children in their late twenties to mid-thirties, write to complain that those children have no prospect of being able to afford to buy because prices have so outstripped earnings.

Consequently, we have tumbled from the top of the European league table of countries where most people own their own homes, down almost to the bottom.

(Economists insist that there is nothing particularly wrong with this, after all, look to Germany, where a majority are content to rent throughout their lives, but I am a politician not an economist and we are not Germans. My alarm bell rings because most of us still aspire to own our own homes, and it just won’t do if we can’t.)

Clearly, the economics all this requires such an increase in housing supply as to bring about a reduction in house prices and rents.

The forth most frequent thing that constituents write to me about however, is that whenever there is a housing development proposal, they write to complain that they don’t want it built anywhere them.

So, how to square that circle?