Nick Wood is founder of Media Intelligence Partners and former Conservative Party Communications Director.
Has Ed Miliband turned into a giant panda? That was the unhelpful but not unreasonable question posed by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith the other day as she likened Tian Tian's lengthy but unproductive pregnancy to the Labour leader's failure to produce a single policy of note despite a three year gestation.
Next week, at his conference in Brighton, Ed may confound us all by having triplets. But the smart money is on him keeping us all guessing for a long time to come. After the worthy but underwhelming Lib Dem gathering in Glasgow, the political landscape still looks like a scene from Narnia's frozen north.
Nick Clegg and his dwindling band of supporters have been stuck on around 10 per cent of the vote for as long as anyone can remember. UKIP, under the rumbustious Nigel Farage, have fallen back from the glory days of the May local elections but are still in double figures, while Labour holds a narrowing but still decisive lead over the Tories.
Nick, despite some decent press reviews, failed to effect a thaw last week. Can Ed do any better?
Not if he models himself on Edinburgh Zoo's most celebrated if enigmatic inmate. So far the Labour leader has treated his conference speeches as a largely metaphysical exercise. A couple of years ago we had a now forgotten denunciation of "predatory capitalism" and last year, in a bid to steal Tory clothes, New Labour was replaced with One Nation Labour - ironically an echo of Tony Blair's one-time boast that his party was the political wing of the British people.