As newspaper sketch-writers have noticed, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not the world's most inspiring speaker.
Here's an example from the Daily Telegraph's Andrew Grimson in February of this year:
"Mr Darling used the tactic which has stood him in such good stead whenever he has faced a difficulty in his ministerial career. He tried to bore us into submission."
And here's The Guardian's Simon Hoggart in similar vein after Mr Darling's budget speech in March:
"Is Alistair Darling the most boring chancellor ever? Put it this way: he sent Geoffrey Howe to sleep ... The former chancellor, now Lord Howe, was the proud holder of that ancient title, the ultimate mega-snooze ... a man whose first throat-clearing could empty a packed room.
"Yesterday he took his place in the gallery across from the whipper-snapper bidding to depose him. Mr Darling had barely started chuntering in his soft Scottish monotone about 'stability', 'challenges of the future', 'flexibility and resilience', when Lord Howe's head slumped dramatically forward. For almost the entire speech he slept in peace."
On the evidence of Mr Darling's pre-budget report to the House of Commons earlier this afternoon, his style of speaking may be just the thing to reassure and inspire confidence the markets. By the time he'd finished, the FTSE 100 index of leading shares recorded its biggest ever percentage day's rise of 9.84%.
What the Chancellor said may, of course, have been as important as how he said it. Either way, Gordon Brown will no doubt be delighted and hoping that it will also prompt the biggest ever percentage rise in his opinion poll ratings.
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