So that’s that then. The UK conference season is over. And mulling over the leaders’ speeches, I’ve realised something quite remarkable.
The UK parties are all now led by 40 something men who are comfortable baring their souls in public. This is the new generation and they are in tune with their emotions. I don’t think I can ever recall so much touchy-feely language being used in big political set-piece speeches. Perhaps it is because these have been scene-setting occasions, with new leaders in new situations trying to get across their defining political values. And love is all around.
Except for poor Nick Clegg. He tried to woo his members but they were resolutely unimpressed. Stick with us, he exhorted in conclusion: cue the sax as Roxy Music launch “let’s stick together”. Shame it only happened in the burdz head. Cmon, cmon, for the sake of our child… And actually it was for the sake of the children that Nick encouraged his party faithful to love him. His speech was peppered with references to the pupil premium, to delivering equality in schools, to nurturing our children.
But if Nick couldn’t get a little love from the Lib Dems, he got it in spades from his mate David Cameron. Even Dave’s children want to know why he spends so much time with “this man Nick Leg”. The picture he painted of their relationship was of a marriage: “… we recognised we could work together. Not just lots of shared values…give and take. Respect when you disagree. Trust.” The little anecdote doing the rounds of the two of them spending a Sunday together building an Ikea unit for baby Florence cemented the message. Not just for government, but apparently for life. Bless.
Dave was determined to spread the love too. Iain Duncan Smith who apparently gave the Conservatives back their heart. A heartfelt tribute to a 96 year old party stalwart. A cute homily about a little girl sending her tooth fairy money to help plug the deficit. Spirit, compassion, love, dedication, hope – not the usual bingo buzzwords you’d expect from a Tory leader. Oh, and it takes two – “to make a dream come true” – and in case any of us missed the symbolism, his speech finished with the Marvin Gaye classic of the same name.
But the eternal love in this conference season was fraternal. Ed Miliband loves his brother David. So much so, he told us not once but several times during his conference speeches. And in interviews. David was keen to reciprocate – greater love hath no man for his brother than to lay down his political career. Apparently. The cynics are not convinced, of course. Equally fascinated and repulsed by the brothers’ battle for the leadership, their relationship dominated Labour’s conference. Ed didn’t just reserve his love for his brother. He wanted to make us all feel his love. For his country, his family, his party, the people, heck even for Tony and Gordon.
All we need is love. And we might want to try a little tenderness while we’re at it.
It’ll never catch on in Scotland.