Beer, sandwiches, whisky and cigars
As a coda to Michael Ezra’s search for the origin of the phrase “beer and sandwiches at Number 10″, here is the passage from Harold Wilson’s The Labour Government, 1964-70: A Personal Record, p275-6. Although this does not record its first use in print, there seems little doubt that the cliché of government-trade union relations of the 1960s and 1970s originated with the National Union of Railwaymen dispute in 1966.
Below, Wilson explains the catering arrangements for the late-night talks that settled that dispute, to clear the way for the 1966 election.
My anonymous correspondent writes:
Harold Wilson, history
I purchased the book when I was a student in the ’70s, read it and haven’t touched it since. Would I be able to search an e-book purchased today in 35 years time as the formats evolve and change?
What I found of particular interest was Wilson’s reference to whisky and cigars. It was beer, a pipe plus a Gannex mac in public, as he successfully identified with the people during Britain’s decline; a trick that Cameron is failing to pull off. However, in the privacy of No 10 it was cigars and brandy (maybe in the early days it was whisky, as with Thatcher).
If only Labour had an effective leader in the mould of Wilson or Blair. Both would have demolished Cameron at yesterday’s PMQs, but not Ed Miliband, who gave up after only three questions.
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