DIARY: Stars and gripes to fore at CCCP election bash

Wannabe parliamentarians in PR and public affairs nailed their colours to the US presidential mast at last week's CCCP dinner to celebrate the election. 'Cigars, Champagne, Cognac and Politics' is an ad hoc group with a shared passion for the worlds of power and intrigue. Last week's dinner, organised by senior Chelgate consultant Mark Glover, saw 50 political geeks from across the left-right spectrum gather at the Commonwealth Club.

An all-American menu of corn on the cob and apple pie was washed down with Californian wine.

After-dinner speeches made plain the lobbyists' loyalties. Paul Schofield, Tory candidate for Basildon at the next election, defended George W's famed ignorance, attacking Al Gore for his smart alecness. 'Better a bungler than a bullshitter,' Schofield concluded.

For Gore, former Labour lobbyist and commons candidate for Lewes, Paul Richards, recreated Neil Kinnock's moving 'I warn you not to get old' speech in a bid to instill the crowd with a fear of Bush. A straw poll based on cheers and lapel badge-wearing among guests suggest Richards is a political talent to watch.

The main rival for the CCCP shindig was the Hill and Knowlton party at the English Speaking Union. A 400-strong crowd gathered there to watch the non-result. US ambassador Philip Lader stayed longer than expected, despite the fact he was hosting his own party at the embassy that night.



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