How the Kebab Awards became a mainstay in the parliamentary calendarby Marie Le Conte / March 14, 2019 / Leave a comment
It isn’t always clear where the Westminster bubble starts and where it ends. We know that it exists and that some people are definitely of it while others definitely aren’t, but its edges can be blurry.
Still, there is now a convenient way to establish someone’s status: mention the Kebab Awards and see how they react. If they passively nod and don’t pick up on the absurdity of that sentence, it almost certainly means that they work in or around Parliament.
The link between the British political elite and occasionally tasty but often cheap and greasy meat isn’t obvious, but that hasn’t stopped increasing numbers of the former descending on the Westminster Plaza Hotel once a year to celebrate the latter.
Why? Well, there are a number of reasons. This is how Mikey Smith from the Daily Mirror puts it: “It’s my favourite political piss-up of the year. It started with a couple of London MPs turning up because there are a lot of kebab shops in their constituency, and then someone decided to dial up the banter and invite literally everyone.”
“You have dozens of MPs showing up and drinking an inordinate amount of free booze. The food always comes out super late too, so everyone’s hammered by the time the belly dancers come on.”
The “someone” in question is Ibrahim Dogus, who Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds describes as a “force of nature.” He isn’t wrong; among other things, Dogus owns three restaurants and a beer brand, founded the Centre for Turkish Studies, launched local paper Lambeth Life, and serves as a local councillor in the area.
He is also the organiser of the BKA, of course, and isn’t shy about promoting them: one journalist was amused to find himself messaged by Dogus earlier this year and asked to promote the event. The group who received the message, they say, included Corbynite activist Ash Sarkar, Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis and comedian Shappi Khorsandi.
Beyond the amusing randomness of that selection of people lies another reason why the award ceremony has become so popular: everyone is invited. Though politics can be a boozy affair, most events tend to be divided by party, faction, interests, level of importance, or a combination of the above.
Just as a drunken, late-night kebab is the great British social class unifier,…