Last week it was Rishi Sunak who suffered a drenching. Yesterday it was Keir Starmer.

For this year’s party conferences, BBC1’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg has been commissioning “word clouds” to gauge what the public thinks about party leaders. It can be brutal but effective way of summing up a person.

Rishi Sunak’s word cloud was dominated by the word “rich”. What would be the verdict when people were asked what Keir Starmer stood for? There it was: “Nothing”. Other popular choices were "Don't know” and “No idea”. Talk about damning with faint praise.

The Labour leader brushed it off. “I’ve had a lot worse thrown at me,” he told Victoria Derbyshire, filling in for Kuenssberg.

The word cloud summed up Starmer’s difficulty. Polls show voters are rejecting the Conservatives, but they are not yet embracing Labour to the degree required for a solid majority. Even the most optimistic Labour supporter knows the 20% swing in Rutherglen last week is not going to be reproduced up and down the UK.

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For Labour to have a landslide victory on a level with 1997, voters need to feel they know who Starmer is, and what he will do with power.

With not many details available on the latter, the personality factor becomes more important. In 1997, voters thought they knew Blair and what he represented – change. Out with the old and in with the new. Better times ahead. Something about education. But with Starmer?

Blair had been party leader for three years when the 1997 election took place. Assuming the Tories go for a general election next year, Starmer will have had slightly longer to sell himself to voters than Blair, yet the public arguably knows less about the current leader.

This explains the noises off last week, with the class of ‘97, variously made up of former aides and a few ex-ministers, urging Starmer to make the prospect of a Labour government more exciting.

Yet a rival camp within Labour believes that boring is better, for Starmer and the party. The public has had its fill of interesting times, goes the thinking. Voters want government to improve their lives. While they are not expecting much, there has to be something.

Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips asked Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, what she wanted to emerge from Labour's week in Liverpool.

"I want a Labour government that is going to make real change to people's lives, and I think at the moment Labour have been too timid,” she told Phillips.

"They need to put a better offer on the table for workers.

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"There's a difference between limping into Number 10 and being carried in there."

Next to add his tuppence worth was Peter Mandelson, one of the more prominent, and controversial, members of the class of 1997.

The Labour grandee said he agreed with Graham that Labour was being too timid.

“I agree that we need more than policy tweaks and we need more than small twists in the policy dial," he said.

But he did not back the renationalisation of energy investment in steel, oil and gas, as Unite does.

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Arguing that the biggest beneficiaries of renationalisation would be giant corporations and their shareholders, Mandelson said: “I’m happy to be bold, but not bold and stupid.”

Phillips congratulated the former minister on his wedding at the end of October, and asked what Starmer could say in his leader’s speech on Tuesday that would be a wedding present.

“He can continue to do what he’s already doing at the moment and that is to bring the Labour Party across the line from being weird to being normal again, which he’s done very successfully.”

That, and a “stonking great Labour majority” would be treasures enough.

Anyone in the market to learn more about Starmer should catch this week’s Radio 4 Profile, available on BBC Sounds.

Steve Smith talks to friends and colleagues of the Labour leader. Some of it will be familiar (young legal gun Starmer supposedly being the model for the Darcy character in Bridget Jones’s Diary), but there are fresh tales, too.

One pal recalls sharing a flat above a sauna and massage parlour in London that was so decrepit the washing machine fell through the floor.

There’s another yarn about selling ice cream on a beach in France without a permit.

Somehow, I can’t see a bidding war for the movie rights.

Next weekend the media circus moves to Aberdeen for the SNP conference, and a chance for Humza Yousaf to see his word cloud. He might be advised to bring the biggest brolly he can find.