The British tabloids have been obsessed with one thing this week: catching high-ranking Tory politicians on camera as they swill champagne during their party conference. Aware of the danger, the Conservatives duly banned bubbly from their event. They didn’t want to give Labour’s smear machine an easy lead about privileged and posh Cons partying away in the midst of a recession. (Class conflict in Britain is still considered a potent political tool, as viscerally effective as culture-war pedaling in the U.S.)
But limey journos don’t give up. Spectator editor Fraser Nelson reports an amusing attempt by the Labour-loyalist Daily Mirror to plant a tray of “lager toffs” – lagers topped with champagne – on shadow chancellor George Osborne.
Osborne’s aides looked stunned: what to do? I was just passing the “waiter” myself at this point, and was tempted to swipe a glass – hair of the dog – but one of his press people had done just that. He was followed by cameramen, all asking “why have you just stolen that champagne?” But, no fear, the waiter had another glass. A second Osborne aide goes to nick the tray. Undaunted, the “waiter” picks up a glass and heads towards Osborne.
In fact, on Monday, Conservative leader David Cameron, attending a Spectator party, was snapped clasping a flute-full of Pol Roger. Sure enough, the next day the image adorned the front-page of London’s Evening Standard.
This passes for political intrigue in Britain. But even if the papers of the Left obtained a full video of Cameron and Osborne drowning peasants in a bathtub full of 1985 Dom Perignon, that still might not be enough to stop the Conservatives from winning next year’s election. (Well, maybe.)
Spare a moment, however, to feel sorry for Team Cameron: what’s the point in being a Tory pol if you can’t quaff the free fizz from time to time?