What is this weird feeling I have when I see Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg being interviewed on television? Surely it's got to be some sort of first, a Government Minister looking people in the eye, answering the question put to him, being honest, open and sounding like he knows what he's talking about.
In my lifetime, I've seen a variety of Ministers, ranging from the imperious and uncaring (Thatcher, Peter Lilley), arrogant (Salmond) smooth and slimy (Mandelson), spinning a web of bullshit, if you can have such a thing, perhaps a metaphor that shouldn't be mixed (Blair), unable to communicate in terms that ordinary people could relate to (Brown), being interviewed. I've usually come away with a mixture of anger, disappointment and frustration at what they had to say, the hairs on the back of my neck often standing on end.
I've been watching Nick doing the rounds of Andrew Marr and BBC Breakfast over the past few days. He's still very good at explaining things in a way that people can relate to. He doesn't try to hide the enormity of the problems that the Government has to sort out, nor the tough decisions they have to make, but I feel reassured that he's in there with his shovel cleaning up the mess Labour has left behind. I know that when he talks about giving power back to the people he means it. Where Labour think that only they are fit enough to make decisions for people, our core philosophy is that people should have more say in how their services are run and that Labour's one size fits all attitude is a recipe for disaster.
It is a strange, but not unwelcome feeling, this having confidence in what a Government Minister is saying. It's not completely new to me - when Robert Brown was in charge of Scotland's schools and Ross Finnie was in charge of rural affairs, and Jim Wallace in charge of justice, for example, I knew I could believe every word they said.