I have only been to the Black and White Ball once – as a guest of someone who could afford the tickets – and came away thinking it was a concoction of monstrous vulgarity (not that this stopped me from tucking in while I was there).
The event might almost have been designed to portray that Conservatives as, if not precisely the Nasty Party, then at least the out-of-touch one. “I wonder the food didn’t turn to ashes in our mouths! Eggs! Muffins! Sardines! All wrung from the bleeding lips of the starving poor!” cries Comrade Butt in The Inimitable Jeeves (to which Bertie Wooster replies: “Oh I say! What a beastly idea!) Goodness knows what Comrade Butt would have made of the Black and White Ball. I will spare readers the details, though I see from the files that Alexander Termerko, who by concidence writes on ConservativeHome today, bought a bust of David Cameron, worth £12,000, at the auction for £90,000. He later donated it to the Carlton Club.
A shoe-shopping session with Theresa May was a prize at a later ball, but it was reported earlier this year that she was mulling scrapping the whole thing. If so, she has evidently been persuaded otherwise. CCHQ claims that, in the second quarter of this year, Labour received £8.2 million in donations, “significantly more than the Conservative Party”, and argues that one has to keep up with the Joneses. So the ball is going ahead.
But with a difference. Patrick McLoughlin has waded in to ensure that a hundred Party members will be offered tickets at a discounted rate of only £75. CCHQ delights in pointing out that tickets at Labour’s conference business dinner cost £400 a head. I am not sure how the hundred will be selected, or whether their presence means culling some of the hedge fund managers or simply expanding the numbers overall, but the McLoughlin’s aim is unambiguous: he wants a less elitist feel to the event or, as I might put it were I really on-message, “a Black and White Ball that works for everyone”. This includes a number of complimentary tickets for “the most hardworking campaigners and party supporters”.
These will be nominated and selected by Area Chairmen. So if the event sounds your sort of thing, send yours a Christmas card now, if you haven’t done so already.