Disco. Photo: Getty
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What is the Lib Dem Disco?

The Lib Dem Disco 2014 is the social highlight of the party's conference this autumn. But what is it?

The Lib Dems, much to the excitement and cheerful derision of Westminster insiders, have announced that they are holding disco at their annual party conference. “The Lib Dem Disco 2014 is the social highlight of the Lib Dem Conference 2014” (their italics), is how the website describes it.

There was a bit of worry in the New Statesman office that “disco” was short for “discussion”, and that the event would be little more than men in yellow polyester ties talking about Trident and land value taxation, looking sad. But it looks like it’s actually a party, with lights and dancing and everything. Maybe even dry ice.

The Evening Standard describes it thus: “. . . the Liberal Democrats’ biggest movers and shakers are preparing to throw some of their best shapes at a party fundraising event next month”. And a fantastic sketch in the Guardian follows the night all the way through, from the “promised price of entry on the door” rising to the last song: that catchy auto-tuned Nick Clegg apology, I'm Sorry. Here’s an extract:

Undercover journalists at the event are likely to be found crowding around Vince Cable who, in an effort to impress, will be indiscreetly undermining his impartiality on a range of issues for anyone who cares to watch. Simon Hughes will be found reminding everyone that he actually drives a taxi, and as such is able to give people a ride home. There will be no takers. A remixed dance version of the Stealers Wheel classic Stuck in the Middle with You will be played on repeat.

The line-up of guest DJs, according to the website, is as follows:

DJ Fazza.T a.k.a FatBoy Tim MP

DJ Dizzle Fizzle MP

DJ Ali C MP

DJ Caron Lindsay

To you and me, that’s Lib Dem MPs Tim Farron, Don Foster, Alistair Carmichael and Caron Lindsay. Attendees can place their bets on who will be the “DJ of the Night”. And if that isn’t enticing enough, the description to tempt us to the event goes: “Do you want to get down with Ashdown? Shake a tail feather with Sarah Teather? Or maybe do the hustle with Bob Russell? Well, now is your chance!”

Tickets cost £10 each (or £9k for students, as a few wags on Twitter have suggested), and the disco is to raise funds to fight the Lib Dems’ Cambridge seat, which is currently represented by Julian Huppert. Huppert himself will be the disco's MC, although, according to one well-placed Lib Dem Disco source, “he’ll look like a supply teacher at a drum and bass convention”.

I caught up with DJ Ali C (aka the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael) this afternoon at Lib Dem conference, and he gave me an exclusive insight into what his set will include:

I have a list of three. And let me just say that one of them might possibly involve a band which included a Native America, a construction worker, a leather man, a traffic policeman, and encourage them [attendees], as it will be the Sabbath at that time, it will be after midnight, that they should engage with a particular Christian organisation. And I think knowing Liberal Democrat social functions as I do, I anticipate that that will be a fairly attractive proposition.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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Let's face it: supporting Spurs is basically a form of charity

Now, for my biggest donation yet . . .

I gazed in awe at the new stadium, the future home of Spurs, wondering where my treasures will go. It is going to be one of the architectural wonders of the modern world (football stadia division), yet at the same time it seems ancient, archaic, a Roman ruin, very much like an amphitheatre I once saw in Croatia. It’s at the stage in a new construction when you can see all the bones and none of the flesh, with huge tiers soaring up into the sky. You can’t tell if it’s going or coming, a past perfect ruin or a perfect future model.

It has been so annoying at White Hart Lane this past year or so, having to walk round walkways and under awnings and dodge fences and hoardings, losing all sense of direction. Millions of pounds were being poured into what appeared to be a hole in the ground. The new stadium will replace part of one end of the present one, which was built in 1898. It has been hard not to be unaware of what’s going on, continually asking ourselves, as we take our seats: did the earth move for you?

Now, at long last, you can see what will be there, when it emerges from the scaffolding in another year. Awesome, of course. And, har, har, it will hold more people than Arsenal’s new home by 1,000 (61,000, as opposed to the puny Emirates, with only 60,000). At each home game, I am thinking about the future, wondering how my treasures will fare: will they be happy there?

No, I don’t mean Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker – local as well as national treasures. Not many Prem teams these days can boast quite as many English persons in their ranks. I mean my treasures, stuff wot I have been collecting these past 50 years.

About ten years ago, I went to a shareholders’ meeting at White Hart Lane when the embryonic plans for the new stadium were being announced. I stood up when questions were called for and asked the chairman, Daniel Levy, about having a museum in the new stadium. I told him that Man United had made £1m the previous year from their museum. Surely Spurs should make room for one in the brave new mega-stadium – to show off our long and proud history, delight the fans and all those interested in football history and make a few bob.

He mumbled something – fluent enough, as he did go to Cambridge – but gave nothing away, like the PM caught at Prime Minister’s Questions with an unexpected question.

But now it is going to happen. The people who are designing the museum are coming from Manchester to look at my treasures. They asked for a list but I said, “No chance.” I must have 2,000 items of Spurs memorabilia. I could be dead by the time I finish listing them. They’ll have to see them, in the flesh, and then they’ll be free to take away whatever they might consider worth having in the new museum.

I’m awfully kind that way, partly because I have always looked on supporting Spurs as a form of charity. You don’t expect any reward. Nor could you expect a great deal of pleasure, these past few decades, and certainly not the other day at Liverpool when they were shite. But you do want to help them, poor things.

I have been downsizing since my wife died, and since we sold our Loweswater house, and I’m now clearing out some of my treasures. I’ve donated a very rare Wordsworth book to Dove Cottage, five letters from Beatrix Potter to the Armitt Library in Ambleside, and handwritten Beatles lyrics to the British Library. If Beckham and I don’t get a knighthood in the next honours list, I will be spitting.

My Spurs stuff includes programmes going back to 1910, plus recent stuff like the Opus book, that monster publication, about the size of a black cab. Limited editions cost £8,000 a copy in 2007. I got mine free, as I did the introduction and loaned them photographs. I will be glad to get rid of it. It’s blocking the light in my room.

Perhaps, depending on what they want, and they might take nothing, I will ask for a small pourboire in return. Two free tickets in the new stadium. For life. Or longer . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times