The Beckhams' World Cup party: Who invited you, Dave?

The Beckhams' World Cup party tonight will be attended by stars of sport and showbiz. But not politics. So how did Mr Cameron sneak in? And, apart from a free Gordon Ramsay meal, what's in it for him? Anthony Barnes reports
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He is a trier, David Cameron. After his efforts to claim the green vote and the young vote, the Tory leader will today attempt a new tactical master-stroke: being photographed along with celebrities and footballers at David and Victoria Beckham's World Cup farewell party.

Mr Cameron, 39, educated at Eton and Brasenose College, Oxford, will make the unprecedented foray into the world of showbusiness and bling at the party at "Beckingham Palace", the £8m Hertfordshire pile which is home to the England skipper and his former Spice Girl wife.

Like the other leaders of the mainstream political parties, Mr Cameron had not been invited to the exclusive event, which will be filmed for television and will feature a meal by Gordon Ramsay, entertainment by Robbie Williams and an auction including a £1m diamond necklace conducted by comic Graham Norton.

Mr Cameron last week found a way to attend after Rebekah Wade, editor of the Labour-supporting Sun newspaper, invited the Tory leader as her guest. He and his wife Samantha will sit with Ms Wade and her husband, the EastEnders actor Ross Kemp.

But it will also give Mr Cameron a chance to hobnob with 350 other guests, including the England squad and pop stars such as Cheryl Tweedy and Ozzy Osbourne, in a shameless attempt to absorb some celebrity cool.

Such celebrity-hugging from Mr Cameron harks back to the days of Tony Blair's honeymoon period when he held his infamous Downing Street reception in 1997 where the likes of Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher rubbed shoulders with the Cabinet. It will also guarantee him a spot of prime-time TV. The event - with the theme "Full Length and Fabulous" - is being televised by ITV1 for a 90-minute programme to be broadcast a week today.

Mr Cameron is thought to be the only prominent politician attending the event. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall turned down their invitation with "regrets".

It is not the first time the new Conservative leader - dubbed "Call Me Dave" on account of his relaxed style - has attempted to line up celebrity support since his election last year. He has placed former Coronation Street actor Adam Rickitt on his A-list and has drafted in Bob Geldof as an adviser.

But such celebrity-seeking behaviour could easily backfire on Gatecrasher Cameron. The PR guru Max Clifford said yesterday: "It's not a natural alliance, the Beckhams and Cameron. Anyone with a brain will see it's a stunt."

Getting down with the kids is not always a wise idea for Tory leaders. William Hague was ridiculed for his attempts to be cool when he visited the Notting Hill Carnival and bragged of his colossal booze intake as a young man.

Once he has been ushered through the ring of barbed wire around the Beckhams' home, Mr Cameron will be whisked to a 50m-long marquee. Inside, guests will be surrounded by an "enchanted woodland" theme with trees said to have been imported from Spain for the occasion.

The Beckhams are well-versed in throwing lavish parties. When they married in 1999, protected by more than 100 minders provided by OK! magazine, they presided over the event on thrones; Posh wore a £10,000 tiara and 100 doves were released to mark their union. Many saw it as the height of bad taste and it launched dozens of parodies.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Thompson

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