Gongs all round at the Paddy Power Political Book of the Year Award at the Imax cinema in Waterloo. It was a bumper night for Spectator writers. Congratulations to Charles Moore, who took the top spot for his Thatcher biography, to our regular book reviewer Richard Davenport-Hines, who won Political History of the Year for his brilliant account of the Profumo scandal, An English Affair, and to Iain Martin (occasionally of this parish), who scooped the debut prize for his damning account of the collapse of RBS.
Mr S’s attention was piqued by the fact that News UK – the media conglomerate formally known as News International – was among the headline sponsors. And many guests were amused to see Hacked Off’s pious Dr Evan Harris tucking into plenty of the champers.
Host Gyles Brandreth also noticed the presence of News UK. ‘I work for the BBC now, which means most of my friends have been arrested,’ he quipped. ‘But then looking at this lineup – so have most of yours’. Elsewhere, Brandreth stayed just on the wrong side of the line by recounting his erotic dreams of Princess Michael of Kent.
The only truly awkward moment of the evening came when Davenport-Hines collected his prize. He tore into the police, the CPS and the media for having organised the stitch-up of a public figure in 1961, before mentioning a modern day equivalent – Andrew Mitchell. The prize was sponsored specifically by News UK and presented by Victoria Newton of the Sun on Sunday, whose daily stable-mates are currently engaged in a long-running dispute with Mitchell after breaking the ‘plebgate’ story. The road to redemption is often rocky.