The sense of unreality that hangs over party conference seems particularly heightened this year. As events outside roll on at a dramatic pace, the conferences try to proceed as normal. A new law on stalking may be necessary but it is small beer compared to the economic crisis gripping the Western world at the moment.

Ed Miliband’s challenge in the next few days is two-fold. First, he has to work to restore Labour’s economic credibility—something that will be made even harder by today’s allegations about the role of his shadow Chancellor in the last government. Second, he has to show that the party gets the seriousness of this moment.

Miliband, who travelled up on the train with his wife and children earlier today, is running into a headwind of bad polls. But the conference does provide him with a chance to make a mark. Labour strategists, though, will be worried how low down the news bulletins their conference is. The party could be about to find out how difficult it is for an opposition to make itself heard. 

Tags: Economy, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband, Labour, Law and order, Opposition, UK politics, Yvette Cooper