FOUR STARS

STEVE Richards is about as hot on impressions as you and me. His John Bercow is a gruff shout, Boris Johnson a plummy fluster and his Hilary Benn a more patronising take on the tones of his late dad. His brain similarly cannot cope with having two lefties on the scene called Owen, and mixes up Labour leadership candidate Smith with smooth-faced writer Jones. To hear Richards being described on the way out as a leftie himself is curious, as it is to hear a ripple of groans through the audience when the names Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon are mentioned.

I find myself doing the same when someone refers to Corbyn as “unelectable” (a presumptuous second-guessing of the electorate) and when Richards trots out the phrase “one-party state” in reference to the SNP. The latter is said with a spot of mischief. The only ideology that motivates Richards is a love of politics.

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He’s written columns across the political spectrum, presented GMTV’s Sunday show for over a decade and been the voice of Radio Four’s Week In Westminster for an eternity.

And despite the staid atmosphere, his insights ignite. He’s likely had the time of his life this year, in which politics has become less rock’n’roll, more a nasty fight at a punk gig.

Referendums, he says, reveal that most Shakespearean of qualities – loyalty. Corbyn’s contortions over the EU vote (“What the EU did to Greece is terrible”, “What the EU are planning with TTIP is terrible”, “Vote, erm... Remain!”) are due to the fact he’s never acted on loyalty to anything but his own convictions. Corbyn, he says, is a Bennite – obsessed by the concept of sovereignty – just like Michael Gove, a man who is unlikely to spend another chummy Boxing Day with one-time pal Cameron. This is top-drawer, insider gold that ends far too soon.

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