Yesterday it was billed as the most important speech of his political career. So how did Gordon Brown perform at the Labour Conference in his address to the 'party faithful'. Well I didn't see all of it but he looked fairly comfortable throughout and every three sentences or so his morale was being maintained with sympathetic applause. What was innovative though was Brown's wife Sarah doing the warm up act before he strode on to the stage and in fact she introduced him. It's said that she is very astute regarding PR and this was a clever move particularly as so many folk reckon that Brown has problems connecting with people. Yes here was a more human Gordon Brown than perhaps we had seen before.
The speech hardly set the world on fire but I wouldn't have really expected it to. Largely self congratulatory it pressed the right buttons with the audience in the hall but I would suggest that the effect on the electorate at home would have been minimal. These annual rituals when the parties have their get-togethers shouldn't be taken too seriously as they exist primarily in their own little bubbles. For most of the population it's the constant drip drip of bad news which is hurting Labour so much; a one off speech by their leader is meat and drink for political anoraks and the party workers but for the rest probably one big yawn.
Even before his speech Brown was fairly secure in his post for the short term. The person who appeared to be most desirous of his crown, David Miliband, by common consent fluffed his chances with rather a poor speech and he is also not flavour of the month with the trade unions. As expected Brown made a few vague promises regarding goodies to come but this is all a nonsense because we know that the government is severely stretched so far as income is concerned.
The Conservatives have the advantage with their conference going last so that they can take on board what has happened at both the LibDem and Labour events. Up until now David Cameron has been able to be 'policy light' as Labour has continued to implode. The Tories might have a strong position in the polls but this is mainly down to Labour's ineffectiveness and lack of progress by the LibDems. However next week the country will be looking for some vision from 'Dave' and some answers regarding how the party should react to the present mayhem in the financial markets. Regarding the latter the Tories can't be muted for ever.