THANK God for that. The party conferences are over and perhaps that means our political leaders can get back to running the country rather than taking part in what amounted to a preelection beauty parade.

Over the last three weeks we have had Ed Miliband trumpeting his comprehensive school education, David Cameron telling us about the inspiration his disabled father gave him, and Nick Clegg apologising a lot.

Of course, Mr Miliband neglected to mention that his state schooling was the result of his father’s Marxist philosophy rather than a lack of a privileged upbringing, Mr Cameron forgot to add that the disabled are struggling to receive the benefits to which they are entitled under new government rules, while Mr Clegg would be apologising less if he hadn’t abandoned some of his party’s principles in return for a Cabinet seat.

Perhaps I am being unnecessarily cynical. But these days party conferences seem as though they belong to a different age.

Conferences used to mean a few days at the seaside for the party faithful and the lobby hacks.

Now they’re all about moving around the country to show how inclusive each party is, battles between party leaders to see whether it’s best to deliver speeches without notes or without a jacket, and making promises that appeal most to the most rabid sections of each party.

They’re all a bit of a sham, really.

In the last three weeks each of the main parties have ‘revealed’ policies that, for the most part, have been a matter of public record for months if not years.

And they have all come up with slogans that effectively say the same thing – we’ll put Britain back together.

What we really need from these jolly gatherings is some truth.

We all know the nation’s finances are in a mess. What most people want to know is how we get out of it.

So where our leaders went to school, or what their relationship with their parents was like, or how sorry they are for past mistakes, is all so much irrelevant froth.

What I want from a political leader is vision, integrity, honesty and, above all, the ability to lead.

I don’t want to know that they are all ordinary blokes like the rest of us.

I want them to be better than the rest of us, more able, more intelligent, and made of the right stuff to lead in difficult times.

Perhaps it’s a naïve thought but wouldn’t it be better if our political leaders spent less time dumbing themselves down so we could spend more time looking up to them?

County’s progress has been remarkable

I DOUBT even the most rabid Newport County fan would suggest the team played well on Tuesday night as they laboured to a 1-0 win over strugglers Ebbsfleet United.

It was the type of match County would have lost last season – and it is the type of match that good teams win.

There is now no doubt that this season County are a good team. They are top of the league and teams are responding by turning up at Rodney Parade looking to defend from the first whistle.

That is a tribute to the progress the club has made on the field during Justin Edinburgh’s year at the helm.

And if the season ends with promotion to the Football League, no-one will remember a poor performance against Ebbsfleet.

They’ll just remember the three points that helped them on their way to the promised land.