Thanks to the Freedom Of Information Act, Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb and the Daily Mail, we can see who came to dinner at Chequers from 1997-2001, and it’s a list to confirm all one’s prejudices.
Can you guess which newspaper would have most representation ? I’ll give you a clue – Alan Rusbridger, Polly Toynbee, David Walker (Polly’s paramour), John O’Farrell, Jackie Ashley, Will Hutton.
Mr Ashley, Andrew Marr of the BBC is there, along with John Birt, former Director-General, Greg Dyke, then current D-G, Radio 4’s Melvyn Bragg, the Today programme’s James Naughtie and gorgeous governor Deborah Bull. Even the Indie gets a nod with ex-editor (and ex-smackhead) Rosie Boycott as well as Peter "I hope Price Harry goes to Auschwitz" Kellner.
One or two other standouts – a high rock’n’luvvie quotient - Elton, Sting’n’Trude, the Thompsons, the Bowies, Stephen Fry, Dame Judi, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, the Frenches (Dawn and Lenny), even Joan Collins (pre-UKIP) and Michael Winner.
One thing that strikes me is the under-representation of ethnic minorities at these bashes. Where’s Lee Jasper, Trevor Phillips, Yazza or Mrs Patak ? Reinaldo da Silva (Peter Mandelson’s significant other), one Dorian Jabri (Chris Smith’s ditto), and TV tycoon Waheed Alli might possibly supply some missing colour, and their sexuality means you get two minorities for the price of one, but otherwise I can only spot Bill Morris, Iman (Mrs Bowie), the wonderfully named Thai Ping Wong (I had one the other night, and jolly nice it was too) and Lenny Henry.
The other notability is the low number of ‘partners’ among the dull old political straights. Old Labour are very married, and even among New you only find ‘partners’ for Stephen Byers and Aleister Campbell (Robin Cook brought Mrs Cook before returning to his secretary on the Monday), as well as Irish Premier Bertie Ahern. Ahern would have had them cut off for that in Ould, Catholic Ireland.
This conventionality at may not last though, if Professor M.W. Adler (‘leading academic who advises the Government on its Sexual Health strategy’) gets his way. My informants tell me his strategy for improving the Sexual Health of a Chequers weekend involves guest Helen Mirren re-enacting her memorable staircase entrance from the 1971 film ‘Savage Messiah’, as well as activities involving Anna Ford, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Professor Susan Greenfield and a large amount of fresh fruit prepared by Delia Smith, Lord Attenborough to film the proceedings. Script by Richard Curtis. Choreography by Trevor Nunn.
8 hours ago