Gordon Brown carefully avoided excitement or humour in his workmanlike speech to the Labour conference today. He told us, in a brilliant turn of phrase, that he 'won't let you down', although the 'you' in question was the gathered Labour Party members rather than the wider nation. He predictably avoided any mention of the election that he has no intention of calling this year. And he made clear he disliked binge-drinking, and under-age drinking - well, anyone who's been to a formal dinner and watched teenagers over-indulge can testify to that!
The speech as a whole, with its morality (nice little use of a famous biblical quote about suffer the little children), its proud to be British line, and its straightforward injunctions, was almost redolent of another era. One friend of mine, a former SGS teacher and sound Labour man, texted me to say that he'd "just seen Maggie Brown's speech". Quite.
On crime, he followed the usual line of Labour governments by producing a new slogan to deal with increasing disorder - 'punish and prevent'. That should send the criminals running, and cause large numbers of illegally held guns to be handed in. And if it doesn't work, well, we can always produce a new slogan next year. Obviously, after giving his speech, he returned to his prime ministerial car, so that he didn't have to expose himself to the possible sight of citizens behaving badly. After all, he might have mused to himself:
Watching the people get lairy
Is not very pretty I tell thee
Walking through town is quite scary
And not very sensible