The Londoner: Defectors given a Glee-ful welcome

(Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images): Getty Images

Luciana Berger, Sam Gyimah and Sarah Wollaston were inducted into the spiritual home of their new party last night: the Liberal Democrat Glee Club.

Roaring Lib Dems welcomed the defectors at their annual conference singalong in Bournemouth, to the sound of popular songs sung by massed delegates, accompanied only by a piano, and reworked with Lib Dem lyrics. “I’m not quite sure they saw the song when they signed up,” confessed the Glee Club’s MC as Berger and Wollaston took the stage to lead a rendition of The Defectors Cometh (based on Flanders and Swann’s The Gasman Cometh). Sample lyric: “’Twas on the Tuesday morning that Wollaston came round/She tried it with the TIGgers but they soon ran aground/She used to be for Brexit, but then she switched her side”. “Someone told me it was like Marmite,” Wollaston, pausing to reflect on Glee Club, said to The Londoner, “but I like Marmite.”

“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” she had said earlier, “joining the Lib Dems is not one of them. I’m having the time of my life!” Perhaps a little more conflicted was Gymiah, the freshest of the new set, who joined the party on Saturday.

Appearing just before midnight in front of the raucous crowd, Gyimah grabbed the microphone and confessed: “I am tone deaf. You do not want to hear me try to sing.” But the crowd’s will would not be brooked: “Yes we do,” they chanted back, and Gyimah soon found himself launching into song.

The Londoner spotted him heading for the door soon afterwards, his head beaded with sweat. His wife had previously given him a warning not to participate, saying: “I’m going to protect you from yourself.” Too late!

Despite their herbivorous reputation, it wasn’t all warm embraces from the Lib Dem faithful. After midnight, the delegates launched into The Pet Shop Boys’ It’s A Sin. Sample lyric: “When I go back upon Newsnight/You know it’s going to cause you pain/I’m speaking on gay sex again.” Poor Tim Farron. And a few verses later the room sang: “A Christian can’t become PM/Except for, you know, all of them/Please feel sorry for poor Tim”. Who said Lib Dems don’t have claws?

It's a mug's game

The hottest property at the Lib Dem conference are the mugs branded with MPs’ pictures.

They’re for connoisseurs only, as they have no captions, so you have to know your Alistair Carmichael from your Jamie Stone (who?).

A Lib Dem source grumbled that the mugs featuring the new recruits haven’t landed yet, though apparently the defector stock arrives next week. When The Londoner dropped by there were none of Jo Swinson either. A backlash already? The opposite: all 40 have sold out, as have the 20 Layla Moran mugs. Pity the poor MPs left on the shelves at the end of conference.


Jacob Rees-Mogg’s diet constitutes curious fare, according to a new biography by Lord Ashcroft. “He doesn’t eat rice or pasta, preferring beef, lamb or game,” writes Ashcroft in Jacob’s Ladder. He adds that Rees-Mogg also dislikes spicy food. “You’d go to a curry house and he would have omelette and chips.”

Kane gang rock up for Fashion Week wrap do

(Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Burberry) (Dave Benett/Getty Images for Bur)

The fashion industry partied in style last night as editors, buyers, designers and models prepare to pack their bags and bid farewell to the capital (next stop: Milan). Christopher Kane threw the after-party for his Spring/Summer 2020 show at The Court in Soho, joined by stilts-legged models Sam Rollinson and Eve Delf. Actor Malachi Kirby and former cyclist Victoria Pendleton and model Sabrina Elba also joined the fun.

Yesterday’s Burberry show, typically one of the biggest tickets on the LFW schedule, drew a starry crowd to the Troubadour Theatre, including actor Lily James, musicians Jorja Smith and FKA Twigs, Vogue editor Edward Enninful and new power couple Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid — who watched Anwar’s sister Gigi stalk the catwalk for the brand.

Meanwhile, at Ham Yard Hotel, Lucy Boynton attended a screening of her new Netflix show, The Politician, co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Platt.


The Londoner watched star new recruit Chuka Umunna speaking at the London Lib Dems reception.

He was in a rhapsodic mood. “This is a historic moment,” he said. “This is one of those moments where you see British politics totally changed. We’re trying in the cities and Westminster not to get too ahead of ourselves but I think we’re potentially facing an earthquake. But for it to notch up on the Richter scale, we have to do the work.”


An earnest male campaigner was overheard describing the powerful effect of watching, in a sex-ed class, a video of woman give birth at a fringe event at the conference. A lady in the front row piped up coolly: “Try doing it.”


Jo Swinson displayed a Domino’s pizza box as she prepped for her speech last night. But former speechwriter Phil Reilly recalls that Lib Dems aren’t always hot on fast food. “We once ordered Nando’s for a Nick Clegg prep session,” he says. “Prompting David Laws to ask: “Who is Nando?

Strike! Grace wins bowling alley reprieve

Grace Campbell reveals good news on Instagram. “My ban from Rowans ten-pin bowling alley has been lifted — my life is so good right now,” she posted this weekend, referring to her barring from the Finsbury Park institution in 2016 (the reason for which she has been rather coy about). She shared an email confirming the news from a Rowans rep called Terry, adding: “I love you, Terry.” The Londoner extends its warmest congratulations to Grace and hopes to see her in the karaoke booth soon.

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