While the helicopters were trailing every move a government made yesterday evening, the Tory hacks descended on the Red Lion, just a stones throw from Downing Street. From the moment Gordon left, until the small hours this drunken throng grew and grew. CCHQ staffers who were congregating outside before heading down to the hired basement to watch the speech, looked on wistfully as press secretary Gabby Bertin, best buddies Steve Hilton and Coulson, along with Dave’s diary and events staff all legged it down Whitehall and into the Cabinet Office so they could be there to greet the new Prime Minister.
As the night wore on and the champagne started flowing, one or two press officers were still on campaign mode and dispersed those holding Conservative signs in one hand and Veuve in the other, just as the snappers arrived. As Cameron’s meeting with his MPs wrapped up, the new intake let their hair down. Clearly not having found the subsidised bars inside they joined the still growing crowd. No wonder Cameron was given such a rapturous welcome inside, it had clearly been a long evening for some of the old hands, though there were distinct grumbles about junior Minister jobs going to the Liberal Democrats. Didn’t stop the gins coming though.
Even Cameron’s suit and shirt joined the party at one point, a loyal team member carrying the dry cleaning casually stopped off for a drink. A late star turn came from famous-for-Westminster Nick Robinson who tried his hardest to pretend he wasn’t flattered having booze soddled drinkers asking to take photos with him. After a quick briefing from Gabby Bertin, who had re-emerged from somewhere, Robinson and ITV chum Mark Austin disappeared off in a blacked out car with a mysterious gaggle of women… Most intriguing.