As the hubbub over Rishi Sunak’s abolition of HS2 dies down and the glittery dust is washed from Keir Starmer’s hair, we see two very different parties.
The Richmond MP is so burdened by its recent past, by the excesses of the Johnson era and the embarrassments of the Truss days, that Mr Sunak is trying to convince voters that he is the candidate after 13 long years of Tory rule of change is.
In contrast, Labor appears to have escaped recent embarrassments as the Hamas outrage in Israel has allowed it to show its new face. She seemed firmly behind her leader as Mr Sunak struggled for a week to be heard in the Truss/Farage/Braverman/Badenoch sideshows.
While Mr Sunak gave details of two of his personal interests – quitting smoking and improving qualifications – Mr Starmer offered only a broad outline of his biggest ideas on NHS reform and building 1.5 million homes.
This looks like the battlefield ahead: Labor doesn’t want to do anything that could jeopardize the priceless Ming vase of victory that they are carefully carrying towards polling day, while Mr Sunak will run around desperately trying to keep everything looking shiny and new while avoiding disappointment Balance sheet of his predecessors.
Labor is ahead by 15 points in the polls and this gap was visible at the conferences and in the responses of commentators. They often reluctantly view Mr Starmer as a prime minister-in-waiting, albeit a “bit boring one”. Mr Sunak, increasingly a one-man party, has another year to try to dislodge the priceless vase – for him it will disappear in no time, even if it will be slow for the rest of us.