Cameron fails to match Blair as a celebrity party-thrower
Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicole Kidman are no-shows: PM has to settle for Cilla Black and Bruce Forsyth
David Cameron and William Hague went shooting for A-list stars to attend last night’s celebrity bash at the Foreign Office and got … er… Ronnie Corbett and Bruce Forsyth.
Number Ten was being coy about the guest list at a function to promote "creative industries", but then someone helpfully leaked a copy of Dave’s “wish list” of celebrities, presumably to embarrass the Prime Minister.
Those invited included Benedict Cumberbatch, Nicole Kidman, Emma Watson, Dame Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the star of 12 Years a Slave. But none of them showed up.
The list of those who actually did turn up was rather less glittering: along with Corbett and Forsyth, Cameron and Hague (whose more used to mixing it with Brad and Angelina) were able to rub shoulders with Katherine Jenkins, Tory Scouser Cilla Black and 'Rev' actor Tom Hollander.
The Times churlishly headlined it 'Stars Turn Down No 10 Invitation' and suggested the venue had been shifted to the Foreign Office from Number Ten because of the low wattage of the stars answering their RSVPs.
The Sun tried to give the PM a boost by running the headline 'Girls so glam for Cam’ over photographs of Tess Daly, Danielle Lineker and Helena Bonham Carter. But as one smart-arse reporter standing in the rain outside the Foreign Office tweeted: "Seen bigger stars on ITV2 at 1.30 am."
It was all light years away from the heady days of 'Cool Britannia' under Tony Blair, when the doorstep of Number Ten was crossed by the likes of the Eurythmics and Noel Gallagher.
Asked after last night's event to compare it with Blair's attempt to exploit Britpop in 1997, Torchwood actor John Barrowman, one of those who did show up, said: “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
Mind you, inviting the likes of Noel Gallagher to sip champagne in Number Ten can backfire. As The Guardian recalls, he later said in an interview: "Looking back, it was a cynical ploy by his spin doctor Alastair Campbell. I was in a euphoric state of mind, thinking: 'Of course Blair wants to meet me. I'm fucking amazing. Who wouldn't?' "
"The fact that a guy who'd been in a band, owned an electric guitar and has probably had a spliff was prime minister really meant something, after years of John Major and Margaret Thatcher. He just might be one of us.
"In hindsight, it turned out he was just a politician like all the rest. I was brought up as a Labour voter and it was euphoric when they got into power. I didn't realise it wasn't New Labour at all – it was the Tories dressed in red."
If Cameron was disappointed not to have Nicole and Emma show up, at least he could celebrate a Juncker bounce in the opinion polls this morning. Well, perhaps…
The latest weekly Ashcroft National Poll shows the Tories on 33 per cent, up five points, and Labour on 31 per cent, down two points, while a new YouGov poll has Labour's lead over the Tories reduced to just two points (37 to 35).
Lord Ashcroft, commenting on his poll, says the boost "may well be largely thanks to Mr Juncker: the poll was taken between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening, when political news was dominated by David Cameron’s stance against the appointment of the new European Commission president. We will see in the coming weeks whether this support can be sustained."
But even the Tory-supporting Daily Telegraph is sceptical. As the paper's Stephen Bush blogs: "I'm not so sure. 'The Juncker bounce' in today's Ashcroft survey amounts to a five-point boost for the Tories, and I would be frankly astonished if five per cent of the country know who Jean-Claude Juncker is."