Dylan Jones: Card-carrying champagne socialists are looking to swap sides - but they want to do it with dignity

Talk Of The Town

Saturday 23 May 2009 00:00

For many of my friends, 2009 has presented them with something of a challenge. For most of their adult lives they have been card-carrying champagne socialists, but now, having started to assume that there will be a change of Government come next June, they are looking to swap sides.

The problem is that they want to do it with dignity, without being laughed at, and without people like me – well, me in particular – prodding them in the chest and saying, "I told you so." And so they lean into me conspiratorially at dinner parties, or in bars, and they whisper.

"How can I do it?" they ask.

"How can you do what?" I reply, knowing exactly what they mean.

"You know. How can I put it ... How can I come out for the other side?"

"Ah, I see," I smile. "You finally want to dump Gordon."

In the last three weeks this has happened to me four times; and each time I've let them squirm. A colleague of a friend came out last week in a meeting with clients, trying to make light of it and ending a sentence with, "And obviously we want to avoid the sort of thing that would have happened if we were dealing with my former political party ..."

Her former political party! What, the one that she supported until about five minutes ago?! In any event, what she said simply confused everyone in the room, including, I think, the most senior card-carrying champagne-socialist client.

I have to say that I'm rather enjoying these embarrassing volte faces, especially as the people wanting to lurch from one side to another are the very same ones who gave me such a very hard time for dumping New Labour seven years ago.

However, in one case the manoeuvre is actually quite serious, because the man considering vaulting the fence is an extremely high-profile corporate player who has been a keen advocate of Brown's government. And when he jumps, all hell will break loose. And I have to say I'm rather going to enjoy that, too.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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