Having seen shadow Chancellor George Osborne and shadow Home Secretary in action at the Tory Party Conference, an uninspiring voice from from the past started to echo in my mind: Sir Geoffrey (now Lord) Howe.
The encouraging news for Messrs Osborne and Grayling is that, apart from his devastating resignation speech that marked the beginning of the end for Mrs Thatcher (HERE), he wasn't known for his electrifying oratory either and it didn't stop him from getting senior jobs in the cabinet.
Conference's luke warm response to taxing booze
I particularly enjoyed the delayed applause and below average 6 seconds of applause (for more on which see HERE & HERE) for some of Mr Grayling's plans for clamping down on the booze culture.
Whether this was the result of poor scripting, poor delivery or because the such down-market drinks didn't resonate with the audience is a matter for conjecture.
So let me set out for you in more detail our plan to introduce big increases in the tax on super strength alcohol.
We’ll increase the price of a four pack of super strength lager by £1.33
We will more than double tax on super strength cider.
And our planned increase on alcopops will raise the price of a large bottle by £1.50.
Not changes that will affect responsible drinkers.
Not changes that will affect the ordinary pint in the pubs.
And we’ll make sure for those of you- those parts of the country with traditional producers that we protect local traditional products
But we'll call time on the drinks that fuel antisocial behaviour.
(1 second silence)
(6 seconds of applause)