On the platform was The Guardian chief reporter Kevin Maguire, who had some caustic words for the Government's new permanent secretary of communications Howell James.
'In a bid to rebuild trust in government by ending cronyism and spin, they've appointed a spin doctor crony of Blair's mate Mandelson to the top job,' he said.
While not wishing to cast aspersions on the integrity of the recruitment process, Maguire noted that James had been at a private meeting with a civil service chief where James was assured he was a serious candidate for the job. 'In other words, "apply and it's yours".' Perish the thought.