As scandals go, the claim (wanly denied by Downing Street) that David Cameron took wine while ending Cheryl Gillan’s term as Welsh Secretary may appear trifling. Yet our MPs and political commentators lead admirably sheltered lives when it comes to alcohol, and inevitably wine-gate has outraged some Tory backbenchers and hostile hacks. The Daily Mirror, for instance, accuses Mr Cameron not of drinking the wine (a red, so it insists, though no word on chateau or vintage), but of “swilling” it.
In truth, swilling would be an indelicate mode of imbibing in the context, especially when Ms Gillan wasn’t offered a glass from which to take so much as a ladylike sip. It would have been worse, of course, had he sat there swirling, now and again dipping his nose to catch the bouquet, and punctuating her sobs with reflections on its ribald insouciance.