Leading article: We'll drink as New Labour

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The Independent Online

Enough material here, we feel, for a PhD or at least a GCSE coursework assignment. As it is, we have only 200 words to devote to "The Semiology and Implied Ideology of Drink", so we will stick to the basics.

Harold Wilson: brandy. Roy Jenkins: claret. Socialists, when the term is meant ironically, including Tony Blair and David Cameron: champagne. Thus we report today on the Government's secret left-wing turn. It turns out that Whitehall's buyers - those people with surprising vocabularies and a hint of raspberry and nutmeg on the back of the palate - have stocked the ministerial cellar with 180 different clarets.

It may not be as left-wing as the People's Newcastle Brown, but Jenkinsite social democracy these days is quite a long way to the sinister end of the spectrum.

Under New Labour, nearly £1m has been spent on wine - and the buyers have a record for getting value for money.

Bottles of Château Margaux now worth £1,000 a pop were picked up for only £3 in the Sixties. So successful have they been that they should win a prize for Most Inventive Reason for Refusing a Freedom of Information Request.

Ministers will not say precisely what is stocked in the Government's wine cellar under Lancaster House because some of the labels are so incredibly rare that merely listing the quantities left undrunk might move prices in the fine wines market. Santé!

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