THE joys and sorrows of the Westminster political conference season are, hallelujah, upon us once again.
It is when party leaders take to their respective pulpits, deliver their sermons of righteous indignation against their misguided opponents, lead the communal singing and try to convince us everyone is using the same hymn book.
It might surprise people that the leader who is looking forward most to the annual religious festival is David Cameron.
The Syria vote was undoubtedly embarrassing for the PM but events, dear boy, have taken a turn and shifted the limelight, placing it first on Barack Obama because of his desire to "do a Cameron" and consult Congress, and then on Secretary of State John Kerry and his unexpectedly inspired move to put Syria's chemical weapons beyond use.
Of course, the candle that has enlightened Mr Cameron's way the most is the economy; the numbers are beginning to look much better.
With Tory HQ trying manfully not to get carried away - no references, please, to green shoots and definitely no quaffing champagne - Chancellor George Osborne is set to be the star of the Conservative show this year when Boris Johnson was in 2012.
There will be a lot of Ed-baiting, boasts of I-told-you-so and declarations that plan B is dead and buried. But any Bullingdon-style revelry will have to be avoided given, as ex-Chancellor Ken Clarke sagely noted this week, the feelgood factor has yet to percolate down to the ordinary man and woman on the street.
Earlier this week, Mr Miliband was on the Dorset coast, trying to kiss and make up with the union barons, who denounced his "schoolboy" attempts of trying to have an individual relationship with trade unionists rather than a collective one. What was he thinking of?
The magnanimous glow on the face of Unite leader Len McCluskey led to the suspicion that a post-Falkirk deal had been done. "Absolutely not," declared Red Len. But 24 hours later, it emerged Mr Miliband's reforming zeal only went as far as the affiliation fee; the union's conference power of the block vote would, we were told, be left carefully untouched.
This weekend, Nick Clegg will be in Glasgow, trying to convince the yellow peril it has all been worth it. As with the TUC event, there are a lot of noises off at the Lib Dem get-together but as soon as the DPM takes to the stage any sense of rebellion melts away as the delegates go all doe-eyed, sigh and throw their underwear (metaphorically speaking, of course) at their lovely leader.
But, after a few days of glory in humbling the PM over Syria, the biggest worry is for Mr Miliband. The Labour conference will, at the start at least, be overshadowed by the publication of the book by ex-No 10 spin doctor Damian McBride, giving us yet another juicy insight into the turbulent times of Gordon Brown's government.
With the economy slowly turning round, unease among the Labour brethren growing, the polls narrowing, Red Ed is facing a hard climb to the citadel on the hill; expect a reshuffle before Christmas. As Ken Clarke noted, his leader might soon be in the fortunate position Margaret Thatcher in 1983 found herself - "facing an unelectable opposition".
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