I've just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours at the Spectator awards lunch at Claridges. Rather hilariously George Osborne was sat at the same table as Peter Mandelson, albeit at polar opposite sides. And who should win the first award, Newcomer of the Year? Yup, Peter Mandelson. The sight of Osborne and Mandelson shaking hands is one I shall cherish for some time. Mandelson's acceptance speech was one of pure brilliance. Hilarious.
UPDATE: Here are Ben Brogan's notes on the two speeches...
Lord M: "I'm bound to declare that this is a time for a novice. Having been marched down the political gangplank a couple of times it's great to be back on board, as we say in Corfu. A brilliant judge of my own PR requirements as ever, I'm sure an award from a Tory newspaper at a champagne lunch here in my natural habitat at Claridges is exactly the thing I need to silence my party critics and allay any fears or misgivings they may have about my return. The thing about newcomers is that we celebrate their naivete, their gaucheness, their endearing lack of judgement, I'm amazed that I managed to pip George Osborne to this coveted prize. It means more to me than I can say or express.
GO, to PM : Sorry to change the running order but you are going to be leaving here shortly, not for the first time. I was a little nonplussed when I was told you had won this award. I was told it was going to be Lord Mandelson of Hartlepool and Foy, and then I remembered - it was the guy I met on holiday. You know how it is: you meet another English guy, he's the only English guy in the resort, you swap stories about work and you think you are never going to see him again. Imagine my delight today. It's wonderful that as winners of a Spectator award we are once again in the same boat. Our next holiday together is going to be in a rowing boat in the North Sea off Hartlepool, a place neither of us has visited for many years.