After a summer consisting of writing large tracts of my upcoming book, wearing a Del Monte man hat and harpoon fishing with Jeremy Paxman and his awesome beard, I've now returned to my usual beat. And just in time, because I wouldn't miss the Liberal Democrat Party Conference for the world.
The importance of living standards as an issue in the independence referendum was underlined this week by a poll for the Scotsman. While we shouldn't draw too much from one survey, nearly half of respondents said they would vote for independence if it would make them £500 better off.
Nick Clegg's not a terrible person. Even though his people made personalised anonymous briefings against me, and though he broke a commitment he made at the time of his leadership election, I forgive him. What's harder to forgive is his bloody-minded determination to stay in charge even though just about every performance indicator available shows that under his leadership the party has gone backwards. Remember when he said his goal was to double the number of Lib Dem MPs? I do. Instead, he's already presided over the second biggest numerical decline in Lib Dem MPs since 1945.
On Tuesday, the Liberal Democrat Conference will debate and vote on the future of Britain's nuclear weapons system. Putting this controversial issue out for open debate is much to the party's credit and its record on challenging the status quo on Trident is streets ahead of the two main Westminster parties, which remain mired in Cold war thinking.
From this week onwards, a weird annual British tradition begins which involves the UK political establishment dragging itself to grey conference buildings across the country to face near-empty halls, drab bed and breakfasts and wall-to-wall gatherings of party activists - it's a politician's worst nightmare and it all takes place under the glare of the public eye with lobby correspondents hiding in every corner.
While the leader will almost certainly survive into the next parliament it seems likely that his party will suffer significant losses unless the conference in Glasgow can begin develop a distinctive and consistent platform of policies on which to fight the next election.
This morning a huge number of Liberal Democrats called for the Government to implement existing Party housing policy. At the behest of the party leadership, this existing policy was voted down. Not only does this cause the Liberal Democrats a short-term policy difficulty in working out what its housing policy is - a pity as it was a good one - but it hands our political opponents a completely unnecessary political vacuum where Liberals are and the only British party representing Liberals should be.
The Liberal Democrats will do a lot of talking at their conference in Glasgow this week, so it's worth remembering the single most important truth about them: Nick Clegg has repeatedly said one thing and then done another.
Graduate unemployment is at an all-time high. When the three major parties meet for their respective conferences this month, they must pledge to invest more in apprenticeships and to drop the ludicrous aim of sending at least 50% of all young people to university.
The Guardian newspaper this week printed one of those immortal headlines that not only boils the blood but leaves one frozen in incredulity. It reads: 'People despise politicians but whose fault is that?'
If the proposition to withdraw all chemical weapons were agreed, it would almost certainly be sufficient to bring about an accompanying ceasefire. It would also be an impetus to start the planned conference in Geneva to negotiate a peace settlement.
From this year, there is an expectation that young people will continue in education or training up to the age of 17. This goes up to 18 in 2015. There is so much mis-information about the rise of the education participation age, some of it unfortunately making its way in to some of the media coverage, that I feel I need to do something about.
A positive Conservative vision for EU reform has to fight for a less regulated, protectionist, subsidised, and taxed single market which can compete in the global economy and credibly champion global free trade as the best means of raising the most deprived countries in the world out of poverty.
The public - and the Green Party - understand that privatisation and outsourcing have been disastrous, built on putting public funds straight into private profits, cutting the pay and condition of workers and the quality of services. And all too often, as we've been finding with the water companies - the piling of debts on to essential public services, while capital is extracted to further boost private profits and financial risks multiplied.
Parents can despair when they hear their seven-year old daughter complaining about feeling fat, or see their teenager struggle with insecurity about her looks. Young girls in particular are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images of beauty - images they can never live up to. The images of beauty we see in the media are all pretty much the same - it's as if there's only one way of being beautiful. I'd like to see a much broader mix of people in magazines and on TV, to help young people of every size, body shape and skin tone feel that there is a place for them.
A party's stance on renewable energy could be a decisive issue in the next general election due to eco-efficient policies becoming ever more inextricably linked to the state of the economy.