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Wednesday 6 July 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Huffington Post UK Launch Party – Who Was There

[Update at end of post]

Who was there? Well, Zelo Street was there, to see the great and the good (and, sadly the not so good) of the media and sleb world converge on Curzon Millbank for the launch of the Huffington Post UK. The panel debate that kicked off the launch – together with the mildly distracting Twitter wall behind them – I’ll cover later, but first on to those attending.

The panel was going to feature Kelvin McKenzie, the man who made the Super Soaraway Currant Bun persona non grata on Merseyside, but no man is of perfect courage, and he was replaced by Tom Watson lookalike Jon Gaunt. Otherwise, the cast of Kelly Osbourne, Celia Walden, Shami Chakrabarti, Alastair Campbell, and of course Arianna Huffington was as advertised. Richard Bacon moderated (very well).

But, I know, who else fetched up? Politicians were in short supply, though the diminutive yet clean cut Douglas Alexander was an early entrant. Of the established awkward squad, Peter Tatchell was in attendance. And looking after his “blood family” (like heck) was “Earl” Charlie Spencer, who came within range of a right hook. But the cranberry juice was, at the time, more interesting.

Then, in a routine conjunction of hypocrisy and freeloading, came Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole, the former an increasingly portly parody of himself, and the latter a directionless fool of no fixed hairstyle, this after Staines had posted a particularly nasty Tweet about Arianna. But the free booze was, well, there. The less than dynamic duo were joined by former stalwart of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance Mark Wallace, whose presence in the auditorium was greeted by the occasional “oh God, is he here?”. Birds of a feather, and all that.

After those assembled moved to the auditorium for the debate, and well after proceedings had got under way, came the arrival of the loathsome Toby Young, whose entrance did not receive nearly as much abuse as it merited. Young, of course, had also been particularly snarky about the HuffPost UK.

Following the debate, we repaired to the 29th floor of the Millbank Tower, where the drinks flowed and snacks were pleasant, if a little sparse. Those previously snarky about Arianna specifically, and the HuffPost UK generally, were of particularly thirsty deposition. It was, at least, interesting to see close up those who reckon to rule over the blogosphere, and other bit players, and be disappointed by both.

Tomorrow the serious business for the Huffington Post UK begins. I’ll have more later.

[UPDATE: Paul Staines has now Tweeted that he "welcomed Arianna to my home turf". That'll be a dubious assumption and something to regret saying later in one]

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