Parties: All right on the night

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The Independent Online

Parties should be defined by their guests, but at The Spectator's annual summer bash on 3 July – renamed the "scrummer" by one guest wedged in the throng – the talk was about who wasn't there.

Most notable was Gordon Brown, for whom the Speccy offices are a mere hop, skip and jump from No 10. While it may seem wildly optimistic for a small right-leaning magazine to expect a Labour PM to take time out to rub shoulders with GQ's Dylan Jones, Joan Collins, Jeffrey Archer and Andrew Neil, his appearance last year only days after entering office had expectations running high. But, as Gordon would doubtless agree, life was very different a year ago.

Not least for Boris Johnson, the mag's former editor turned Mayor of London, whose absence also had tongues wagging until he burst in just after time was called at 9:15pm. A round of champagne corks was popped for one last hurrah.

By then David Cameron and George Osborne were a distant memory, having put in a short, sharp appearance early on. But there was no shortage of senior Tories throughout the evening, with William Hague, Michael Howard and Lord Lamont weaving in and out of the garden, where a marquee sheltered a lucky herd from the rain.

Out on the street a blacked-out camper van with fluffy black sofas laid on by Ardbeg whisky sat forlornly empty. Perhaps nobody could tear themselves away from the highly-charged political scrum, whether they wanted to or not.