I attended the official launch of Big Brother Watch, the new Taxpayers Alliance campaign, in London last night. If I'm honest, I had a little too much to drink which masked my cold during the event but I'm feeling it this morning.
Venue was Vanilla, a modern bar restaurant a short walk north of Oxford Street. We were in the cocktail bar downstairs. It reminded me of Xenon, the first and only London nightclub I have ever been to - and that was in the Eighties. An odd place, perhaps, to launch a new political campaign but no-one was complaining. It's nice to see these things done with a little panache.
All the usual suspects were there - Mark Littlewood (IEA), Shane Frith (Progressive Vision), Philip Booth (No2ID), Simon Richards (Freedom Association), Eamonn Butler (Adam Smith Institute) - and many more.
Guest speakers were David Davis and Tony Benn. Benn is 85 and, officially, a national treasure. Call me old-fashioned, but I do find it a bit galling to hear people on the right sucking up to him as if he's some sort of hero.
I interviewed him in Edinburgh seven years ago for a magazine called The Politico. He was touring the country with his one-man show and he was very charming and hospitable. Politically, however, Benn has never changed. He's the same one-eyed socialist he was in the Sixties and Seventies when Britain was led to the edge of bankruptcy and national humiliation.
Anyway, it was an excellent night and I wish Big Brother Watch well. Alex Deane, the director, is young and very bright and I am sure we will hear a lot more of the campaign in the coming months and years.
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