Going to the Conservative Future Christmas party was not my idea of a good night out. But it did offer a sobering glimpse of this country's future leadersby Dan Hancox / December 22, 2009 / Leave a comment
Tomorrow’s leaders: the Conservative Future Christmas party back in 2007
“What annoys me,” says a toff, “is your perception that the Conservative party is full of toffs. I mean, do I look like a toff?” he asks, apparently rhetorically. He looks like a toff.
This isn’t how I normally spend my Saturday nights: deep in the trenches of class war, spilled champagne underfoot, the bloody theatre of conflict that is Piccadilly Circus raging heedlessly outside. In a fit of misguided journalistic curiosity, I went undercover to the Conservative Future Christmas party in early December. I wanted to see the next generation of Tory leaders do their pre-emptive general election victory dance. And I got to see it. Be careful what you wish for.
The toff in question wears a thick blond mane, an open-necked striped shirt and a ruddy burn-tan straight off the slopes. He is addressing his incredulity not to me, but a cheery young Asian guy—normally a Lib Dem, he said—who had joined the hooray of aspirant Conservative MPs smoking outside The Warwick to talk politics.
The group proceed to argue about whether Michael Howard or William Hague was the more tragic loss to the party leadership; both massively underrated, they say. “But don’t you like David Cameron as leader?” the rogue Lib Dem asks. “Don’t get me wrong, Cameron is… necessary. But George Osborne: now he’s the bloody man,” one of them replies, supported by a cascade of floppy-haired nods.
When I arrive at The Warwick at 11pm the party is already dense with shirts tucked high at the waist, and the bar’s low-lit basement a sea of tilted wine glasses. Louis from Bristol stumbles towards me, clinging on to an empty bottle of red wine like his life depends on it. He doesn’t look a day over 18, but he knows he’s had more than enough of Labour, he splutters, exasperated. “If we don’t win this time!” he barks in my ear, “if Kingswood doesn’t go blue! Well…” he’s too horrified to finish the thought, and instead pulls out his Blackberry and types “IT’S TIME TO GO BLUE” for me in capitals.
The conversation stalls as the crowded dancefloor expands, annexing our little corner. A rugby-necked ranine steps up to the raised seating area above the rabble, having apparently decided his role is to lead them in party-political prayer. Beers and arms are held aloft. Two…