There were many fine speeches made in last month's emergency debate on Afghanistan. Peers and MPs queued up to deliver their musings on the Taliban takeover, in spite of twenty years of blood and treasure. From rising stars to extinct volcanos, backwoodsmen to bootlickers, the tributes poured fourth with liberal mentions aplenty of Vietnam and betrayal.
But such speech-making is thirsty work it seems. For while the bars of the House of Commons remained closed on the day of the debate, no such restrictions existed in the Lords where peers and MPs could freely wander in throughout the afternoon's oratorical marathon. Records show some seventeen glasses of wine were glugged from the establishment's taxpayer-subsidised watering holes as parliamentarians marked the end of Afghanistan with House of Lords brand chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Bottoms up eh chaps?
Sadly for SW1's beancounters, just £78.57 passed through the parliamentary cash registers on the day of the recall debates – presumably just enough to cover the wage costs of the staff urgently dragooned in to wait tables for our Westminster overlords. A Freedom of Information shows that total costs for re-assembling the parliamentary pantomime cannot be calculated, owing to the difficulty in disaggregating this figure from wider organisational costs.
Let's hope such alcohol-fuelled oratory was of some comfort to those in Kabul during its final days under western-backed forces.