Yesterday I attended The Spectator/ Threadneedle Investments Parliamentary Awards lunch. The great and good of the political and media establishments were there to enjoy excellent food and wine. Martha Kearney sat next to George Osborne. Andrew Neil to David Cameron. Matthew d’Ancona to John Reid. Nick Robinson to Michael Howard. Somehow I got an invitation. I sat between Lord Lawson and David Heathcoat-Amory. I’m not sure if I’ll be invited back next year. After camcordering the film of ‘Dave’ that you can watch below I was given a telling off by one of the stewards and asked to put my camera away. There were BBC cameras rolling but my £200 Sanyo from 18 Doughty Street was ruled out of order.
The proceedings began with Spectator Editor Matthew d’Ancona paying tribute to the splendidly decorated room of the Claridges dining room. It had been decorated with more attention than Greg Barker’s sitting room, he joked. Naughty.
- LibDem MP Julia Goldsworthy won the Newcomer award for being willing to speak up against the failings of Charles Kennedy’s leadership.
- Lord Tebbit was declared Peer of the Year for, among other things, his opposition to Labour’s Religious Hatred legislation. Some wit urged Mr Cameron to hug-a-polecat as the Tory leader presented the Chingford Skinhead with his award.
- Andy Burnham is Minister to Watch apparently. Before Mr Burnham gets too excited he should note that very recent winners included Estelle Morris and Christopher Leslie.
- Tom Watson was deemed to have made the Resignation of the Year but Mr Blair’s lead assassin didn’t show up to receive his award. Bob Marshall-Andrews accepted the award on his behalf and complained that he had never been given a post in the New Labour frontbench from which he could resign.
- Stephen Pound’s Commons tirade against the smoking ban won the Ealing Labour MP speech of the year.
- Labour deputy leadership candidate Jon Cruddas won the Campaigner award for his campaign against the BNP and for reminding the political parties that swing voters in marginal seats were not the only people that should matter to politicians. Looking around the splendid Claridges surroundings as he accepted his pewter dish he noted the old socialist adage that the struggle can take many forms.
- Richard Bacon deservedly won Parliamentarian of the Year and gave almost exactly the same speech that he used to accept his Outstanding Parliamentarian award from ConservativeHome.com on Monday.
- On the day when Yates of the Yard signalled faster-than-expected progress of his loans-for-peerages investigation it was very appropriate that the SNP’s Angus MacNeil should be recognised as Inquisitor of the Year. His acceptance speech: ‘I’ve always wanted a political award… Who do I pay?’
Politician of the Year was John Reid who accepted his award from David Cameron before looking at the Tory leader and telling him that he was the future once. The Home Secretary took great pleasure in telling his audience that it was five years since the top Speccie award had gone to someone other than a party leader. ‘What could it mean?’ he teased!
The funniest moment of the lunch came when Labour’s security supreme told his captivated audience that his remarks had been prepared by Lord Tebbit. The former Tory Chairman pretended to carry a speech to the lecturn. The speech will be more than left-wing than normal, Mr Reid apologised.