But if politicians are determined to persist with them, then I have to say that the First Minister's effort this year is one of the more polished examples of the genre. Commendably brief, optimistically up-beat, with a hint of self-deprecation, even humour, it was obviously not written by a civil servant. Mr Salmond can be extremely effective when he eschews his trade-mark bombast. So well done to him.
By contrast, the Prime Minister's effort is woeful. By attempting to cover the entire range of government policies, it is excessively long and clunky. It reads as if each government department has been invited to contribute a paragraph. It is defensive, impersonal, pessimistic and, above all, boring.
It is also in parts politically clueless. Consider this extract:
And in 2008, with firm conviction and resolve, we will make the case for the United Kingdom - standing up for the cause of the Union and against secession, showing people in all parts of the country that for so many of the challenges our country faces - from climate change to terrorism - there are no Wales-only, Scotland-only or England-only solutions.
As far as I am aware, nobody - least of all the SNP - has ever suggested that climate change or terrorism could be addressed by a Scotland-only solution. So what is Mr Brown's point? That UK-only solutions will work in these areas while Scotland-only solutions will not? It hardly seems credible. This is the kind of boilerplate Labour HQ thinking that caused Labour to lose the election last May. Mr Brown seems to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. He really needs to get up to speed and fast.
Finally, while on the subject of messages, I wish all three of my readers a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2008.