"What's the difference between Tony Blair and God?"
"God doesn't think he's Tony Blair".
I went to meet Anthony Giddens, Blair guru author of The Third Way last week. I had been invited by the London School of Economics' events people to the launch of his new book, Over to you, Mr Brown. It was a really enjoyable evening, which kicked off with a debate on the future of Labour under a presumed Brown government. Giddens was on fine form, a respected public academic whose common touch is so rare in these circles. He's funny, quite charming and down to earth. He also peppers his new book with jokes like the one above. Peter Riddell from The Times gave a fascinating psephologist's view of how Brown is, and might be perceived by the wider electorate. Polly Toynbee, with whom I once had dinner with in Brighton, gave a staunch supporter's view of the Brown record. And, to provide the token Tory, David 'Two-Brains' Willetts added his weighty, albeit right-wing contribution.
After having the customary scribble in my book from Giddens, I got talking to a fascinating bloke afterwards who, a few years older than me, was a mature student and had spent eighteen months in prison for drug dealing. He was quite an inspiration, having enrolled on a Politics BA at Sussex and we nattered for some time. A bottle of university standard red wine later, Tessa Jowell arrived , the errant speaker from the earlier debate, - hot on the heels of the Casinos Bill in the Commons.
The Secretary of State comes across as your favourite auntie and a slightly fearsome Deputy Headmistress all rolled into one. 'Now, what would you say was the most exciting bit of the evening' she asked. I blabbered something about each of the speakers. We both agreed that David Willetts was our favourite Tory - 'he gets better as goes on'. I even managed to give her my card to interest her in attending a London Young Labour debate. Those of you who know me will know that I'm quite involved with them at the moment. I then promptly walked off into the darkness of Holborn and misdirected my new found friend, John, to the tube station. Oops!
But, all in all, a successful evening!