By Steve Bagshaw
It isn’t very often you get invited to No 10 Downing Street to meet the PM. But I was lucky enough to go along to Whitehall last night (along with a 100 or so other editors) for a drinks reception with Gordon and Sarah Brown.
Whatever your view on politics and politicians, the frisson as you walk up Downing Street is unmistakeable . Yes, the security measures detract slightly and the scaffolding that currently encases the house make it a little less of a spectacle. But nonetheless it is pretty exciting.
Inside is something of a labyrinth and we were whisked upstairs to a reception room and before the PM turned up we were served drinks. For fear of sounding ungrateful I don’t know what Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni are offered when they come to visit, but I imagine it isn’t what we had, which was more Chateau Lidl than Chateau Lafite.
Anyhow, Gordon arrived flanked by press minders. This was a reception for journalists (for the British Society of Magazine Editors to be precise) but the message was clear: no questions to the PM, just enjoy the party. He glad-handed the crowd and made a short speech. He was good, much more sympathetic in real life than on the TV or radio. And some of his anecdotes were pretty funny.
He did a little more pressing the flesh and seemed to make an attempt to get around to all the guests. And he even signed my invitation for me. I know that is a bit teenage-like, but as I say, that is the first time in nearly 42 years I have been invited there. And it may be the last.