Fraser Nelson

Boos, wine and tax cuts at the Channel 4 political awards

Boos, wine and tax cuts at the Channel 4 political awards
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I was at the Channel Four political awards last night, where the strangest thing happened. Their main award - (most inspiring political figure of the last decade) - was given to the Countryside Alliance, introduced by Jeremy Irons. As he spoke, boos came from the crowd. At first, I thought it was a joke. Then when the award was accepted (by Ann Mallalieu, president of the Alliance) the booing grew louder and cries of "get off" could be heard as she delivered her acceptance speech. In front of an invited Channel Four audience. Incredible.

One of the books up for an award was Peter Oborne's one on the rise of the political class. The video showed someone on the judging panel saying Oborne's thesis was not strong enough to sustain a book. It seemed to me that his thesis was alive, well and being demonstrated that night. An audience which cheered right-wingers like Hague to the rafters was booing the Countryside Alliance which, I suppose, is mainly staffed and supported by people outside the Westminster establishment.

Its a shame to let a small group of boors overshadow an otherwise very enjoyable evening (and full credit to Ch4 judges and voters for honouring the Alliance, and nominating Stephen O'Brien for his work on malaria. It was no leftie stitch up).  As I watched, I was thinking how the Spectator/Threadneedle Parliamentarian of the Year awards have become the Iowa primary of the season. Make it with us, and you win the rest.

George Osborne won for the inheritance tax cut (that policy won more awards than it would have done elections, in my view, but anyway). The Thick of It took the satire award. Armando Iannucci accepted, thanking judges for sitting him next to Alistair Campbell so he could spill wine over him. Campaigning MP was won by Jon Cruddas. As Adam Price said "if he didn't exist the Labour Party would have to invent him because he is the authentic voice of working class Labour." I'm a fan of Cruddas, but our Dagenham hero is actually from Southampton and lives in a plush Notting Hill flat.

William Hague won "politicians' politician" (the awards will be shown on Sunday night and worth watching as they replay the punchline's from Hague's fantastic EU speech on Monday).  "Who cares about winning three elections in a row to get the odd award from Ch4" said Hague. To no boos at all.

Next, that book. Campbell's diaries were trashed by the judges "a competent book, but no more than that", "the book most left behind in travel lodges and reading it I can see why". "the Brown references were edited out, and God knows how long it would have been otherwise". And God knows what they thought of the rest because Campbell actually won. With typical graciousness, he attacked one of the other contenders (Norman Baker for his Kelly book) and said he hoped Osborne would never win such an award again. Osborne beamed from the top table. His gong was for "opposition politician of the year". He'll also hope he's not in that category for long.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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