Jeremy Corbyn arrived at the 7th annual British Kebab Awards to whoops and cheers last night, cementing the event — bizarrely — as a key fixture in the political calendar. Such is the draw of the ceremony, the Labour leader is now a regular, despite the fact that as a vegetarian he does not eat kebabs.
“It’s strange really,” he admitted as he took the stage at the Park Plaza, “as one who chooses not to eat meat and chooses not to drink, I love kebab shops for what they do!”
In what could be described as triangulating, Corbyn continued: “I love having a falafel wrap in a kebab shop. I was [once] ridiculed for talking about falafels at the Kebab Awards. Hands up those who like a falafel?”
The crowd, enjoying complimentary wine, drowned out the few boos with roars of approval. “Big swing towards falafels in the past two years…” Corbyn shrugged before sitting down to the veggie option on the three-course menu: vegetarian moussaka.
Actually the Kebab Awards’ ascendance as an arena in which politicians can prove their “man-of-the-people” credentials has mirrored Corbyn’s own ascent in the Labour movement. Guests last night also included Conservative mayoral hopeful Shaun Bailey, Labour’s Angela Rayner, Tory MP Bob Seely and the ERG’s Mark Francois.
Keen not to miss out, Theresa May, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and Sadiq Khan all sent messages of support for the late-night staple, although some were less creative than others.
Both Tom Brake of the Liberal Democrats and Priti Patel of the Conservatives said the kebab “has become as established a national dish as chicken tikka masala!”.
Later, organisers presented research to show the average kebab eater is more likely to have voted Remain than Leave, and that Labour voters are more likely to have eaten a kebab in the last month than Tory counterparts.
Donors versus doners?
BBC comes up short
The BBC has come under attack from a former journalist for the way it has covered the aftermath of the Christchurch shootings. It was accused of “blaming the victim” for a segment on BBC News in which a presenter asked whether anti-Muslim language was normalised because of “Islamist violence”. “I’m seriously worried,” wrote Farah Jassat, an ex- producer on Newsnight, adding: “A lack of diversity in newsrooms leads to a cognitive dissonance when reporting on those communities.” Front Row presenter Samira Ahmed chimed in, saying she expected BBC Newswatch “to discuss coverage with a senior BBC figure this Friday”.
American band Wheatus, famous for Teenage Dirtbag, like to stay abreast of UK politics. Last summer they enquired after Labour’s Brexit policy. Yesterday, following John Bercow’s guillotining of MV3, a band member asked: “Can any of you please link me to Bercow’s full statements on this? I’m riveted.” Later, he suggested “a concept album about John Simon Bercow & The Magna Carta”.
Poor Andrew Marr who, when asked if he was “very popular” with Remain supporters, replied: “Not true. They loathe me.” It gets worse for the BBC presenter, artist and novelist: “Everybody loathes me. Even my cats.”
Comedy duo put trust in fundraiser
Comedians Sally Phillips and Ronni Ancona were at the Trust In Fashion fundraiser for the Rainbow Children’s Trust at The Grosvenor Hotel in Mayfair last night.
Phillips, who starred in the iconic Nineties sketch show Smack The Pony with Doon Mackichan and Fiona Allen, recently floated a potential idea for their reunion: “I think the time has perhaps come for an entirely period-based sketch show: The Big Red One.”
The fundraiser, sponsored by Boodles and supported by Marie Claire, raised money for families with children suffering a life-threatening or terminal illness.
Ancona and Phillips were reunited at the event after starring together in Surviving Christmas With the Relatives. The film, about a dysfunctional family during the festive period, was scripted by James Dearden, writer of erotic thriller Fatal Attraction.
Also at the event were former S Club 7 star Rachel Stevens and model Nell McAndrew.
The latest Register of Financial Interests shows that Penny Mordaunt MP, below, has received £2,000 from a production company. A spokesperson for Mordaunt tells us that “her house was used for filming in a TV show, but she doesn’t feature in it”. The spokesperson also said that “the funds have been donated to charities”. The TV show is currently unknown.
After Bercow’s Brexit ruling last night, ERG members were heard whistling the theme tune to The Great Escape in the Commons tea rooms. Readers will recall that the film ended with the deaths of most of the British characters, shot in a German field.
A Treasury staff quiz last week featured questions on Baby Shark and Harry Potter. Tough going for older mandarins. But there was consolation in the team names: Do You Believe in Life After Leave and Backstop’s Back Alright.
Tanni ramps up pressure on Network Rail
Paralympic champion Baroness Grey-Thompson successfully held Network Rail to account after she was more than an hour late to a meeting yesterday because of poor wheelchair access. “We’ve come into Barnes station on a different platform [so] I can’t get out of station,” the 11-time gold-medallist tweeted. “Have to go to Chiswick.”
Barnes has wheelchair access on two platforms but steps from two others, leaving Grey-Thompson “frustrated” and “nearly 2 miles from where I wanted to be”. But later she received an apology from Sir Peter Hendy, Network Rail chair: “The rail industry can do better than this.”
Quote of the day
'Since I’ve become an MP, sea levels have risen, Trump has become President and England still haven’t won the World Cup. Coincidence?’
David Lammy sees himself as part of a conspiracy.