Down to earth
By their very nature, party conferences are somewhat surreal affairs.
Here in Birmingham for the Conservative gig, the impression is heightened by the venue which is set amidst a corporate theme park carved into the centre of the city.
By that, I do not mean to be rude. As a family man, I have immersed myself eagerly in sundry theme parks in the past.
The Birmingham version is notably attractive, blending studied modernity with reconstituted canals and brand name restaurants. And the sense of mild displacement continued within.
Here was a Conservative finance spokesman lambasting the City - or, more precisely, elements therein.
Here too was an offer to freeze council tax. What was this? Had I suddenly been time-shifted to the SNP conference?
Was matter transportation the white knuckle thrill ride of the day?
But no. This was a notably down-to-earth speech from George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor. It had to be.
The circumstances demanded it - and the challenge had been laid down by the prime minister in Manchester last week.
In essence, Gordon Brown's argument was that the financial system is flawed - and that it requires a politician of experience to address that. The name? G. Brown.
(Or, at least, that is the summary version in political circles. Except, inclining more towards the demotic, they tend not to say "flawed". )
Mr Osborne, similarly, discerns flaws in the financial system. Too polite to use the demotic from the platform, he was nevertheless rather blunter than Mr Brown.
The party, Mr Osborne suggested, was over. Brown's boom was at an end - and Britain was bust.
However, he opened by acknowledging that folk wanted to know whether the Tories were up to it - and whether they would make a difference.
Hence the attack on aspects of the City, the declaration that those who make big bucks must suffer big bangs on the head when it goes wrong.
Mr Osborne knows his party is potentially vulnerable to Labour suggestions that they would do nothing to curb banking excess.
Hence the plan for an office of budget responsibility - a form of Bank of England for spending plans with independent power to monitor government.
Hence too the offer on council tax - a freeze for two years where councils come up with savings.
This exactly parallels the SNP logic which is that hard-working families have suffered enough and require fiscal relief.
In Mr Osborne's case, it sets out something precise at a point where he stresses he is unable to offer much on income tax, given the state of the economy.