Andrew Rawnlsey bemoans the conference season as a gathering of lilliputians, in his Observer column today. While he reserved his greatest ire for a George Osborne speech so low-key it would drive insomniacs to sleep, he was little kinder about the leaders, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. To say nothing of the gathering of other, distinctly minor, ministers.
He may have a point. The three weeks of conference gatherings, which should be showcasing all that is most exciting, radical and controversial about the parties and their policies - which should indeed be shaking up the British polity after its summer, ready for a reinvigorated political term - has been so underwhelming that most of us have been able to sleepwalk through it, unsullied by the thoughts of our elected representatives and their adoring supporters. The barely memorable bits are memorable for the wrong reasons - Sarah Teather's truly lamentable attempt at stage humour, for example, or Ed Miliband's arguably self-evident declaration that he was not Tony Blair. Whatever came out of the conferences has, in any case, been quickly over-shadowed by a good old fashioned political corruption saga.
It is notable that the individual who has reminded us of how genuinely great people can change our lives, has been not a politician but a techno-geek. The obituaries of the giant of Apple, Steve Jobs, have dominated news and magazine covers, and generated lengthy articles about the changes he has wrought. Most politicians can only dream of having even a tenth of the impact that Steve Jobs has had on most of our lives. Alongside the late creator of all things 'i', Amazon's Jeff Bezo has also been making headlines as he presages the launch of the Kindle Fire. The Sunday times today (in a pay to view article) heralds him as the inheritor of Jobs' crown, but in reality he has been making changes to our lives for years already.
The techno-geeks clearly dwarf the politicians. But in a world of globalised relationships and unpredictable enmities, to say nothing of economic volatility, it would be nice to think that one or two politicos could try and hit the mark just slightly above the merely mediocre.