Sunday, January 27, 2008

Your Most Embarrassing Political Moment

In January 1983 (I cannot BELIEVE it is 25 years ago!) I was invited to a reception at 10 Downing Street by Margaret Thatcher, along with other chairman of univesity Conservative Associations. In those days I didn't even own a suit. That soon had to be rectified. I can remember walking up the famous staircase, past the pictures of all previous PMs. At the top of the stairs was Mrs T, greeting her guests. I shook hand, making a mental note of how small she appeared. As she shook my hand she almost guided me on into the reception room. Most of the Cabinet was there - Tebbit, Lawson, Parkinson. I remember having a conversation with Cecil Parkinson about running and he told me about how, after having done an interview about his early morning runs, he would be sent dozens of running shoes by the likes of Adidas etc. He then proceeded to offer me a pair, which sadly I had to decline as my feet were two sizes bigger than his.

The waiters plied the guests with wine throughout the evening. Not being a big drinker I decided to stop after two glasses. However, when you're at a party you feel a bit of a spare part without a glass in your hand, so I took another. As I raised the glass to my lips Margaret Thatcher walked right by me. As she moved past I found my stomach heaving and it was all I could do not to throw up at her feet. It wasn't wine in the glass, it was her favourite tipple: whisky and water.

And so ended what nearly became my most embarrassing moment in politics. Tell us about yours.

12 comments:

Geoff said...

It was at a meeting of the St John's College Politics Society (in Southsea, Hants). I was Secretary and so was in the front row.

Enoch Powell was speaking (doing questions and answers up against some lefty I can't even remember) and said something particularly inspired about the rights and wrongs of nations interfering in the internal affairs of others.

I started clapping. The other 199 people sitting behind me didn't.

He was still right though.

jamie said...

i haven't had an embarrassing political moment.

i suspect that it is probably still to come...

Henry Pepper said...

I was on an Italian TV programme about the views of young people on the Common Market, circa 1969. I was the pro-European. Opposed to me was someone whose name I had not quite caught. Before recording started, he asked me where I was from and I said "Saffron Walden". "That's a coincidence", he said, "I'm from Wenden's Ambo". Remembering a well-known anti-European from that village, I said "Oh you'll know the mad major then, Oliver Smedley". In the split second before he answered I had a horrible thought and knew what he was going to say: "Yes, he's my father".

Henry Rogers said...

Iain,

I do hope that didn't put you off whiskey for life, it's one of life's pleasures! Must have been a shock, though, if you were expecting something else but I can't believe No.10 can have been serving gut-rot.

livingnext2romanians said...

She may have been small, but she cast a giant shadow.

hypocentre said...

I joined the Young Conservatives in 1980 - I'm still embarrassed about that.

raincoaster said...

Poor Iain. I feel your pain; a similar impulse comes over me every time I think about her policies.

i spy strangers said...

Ca. 1974 I attended a talk given by Keith Joseph to students at Sheffield University. The organisers sat him down at a table on the lecture theatre stage, in front of a large microphone with a cast iron base. However, the great man preferred to walk around whilst giving his speech and taking questions.

Unfortunately, it proved impossible to detach the mike from its heavy stand. We were then treated to the sight of (then plain) Mr Joseph walking round with the stand balanced on his thigh and the microphone held out in front of him at midriff level.

The SU newspaper, Darts, accompanied their report of the meeting with a photograph, taken sideways-on, with the glorious caption: Keith Joseph holding his own in Lecture Theatre 4.

Anonymous said...

I Spy Strangers, Iain was asking for YOUR Most Embarrassing Political Moment.

If we are talking about other people, I would nominate John Redwood pretending to sing the Welsh national anthem.

Andy said...

Did you not notice the different shaped glass?

Paul Burgin said...

Referring to a point of order at the Labour Party Conference in 2004. I was a delegate, was called to the front, and was so nervous in front of Tony Robinson, the then PM, and the television viewers, that I fluffed it and ended up making a convuluted short speech, which led to an intervention by Tony Robinson

sebinomics said...

The following is not my personal most embarrassing political moment, but my favorite most embarrassing politician:

In 2003, Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi called Martin Schulz (European Parliament member) a Kapo, a privileged Nazi camp prisoner. In 2006, he called Italians non voting for him coglioni, in English: assholes. Just two days ago, he demolished (not on purpose though) a lectern in the White House. All of this was documented and shown on TV and Berlusconi is again and still governing Italy.

Embarrassing but remarkable.