Thursday, April 28, 2005

Vodka, vodka, everywhere and every drop to drink

A story reaches me from the distant reaches of our European galaxy and one that's yet to be picked up by the media in the UK, so another exclusive for this website (hat tip to my source).

It seems that at the start of April, the European Committee of the Regions ran a fact-finding tour to Kaliningrad. Clearly, this would be a high-profile, stressful job for only the most reliable, sober politicians, so the UK delegate was none other than Ruth Coleman, Liberal Democrat PPC for Leeds Central against our very own Hilary Benn. She's also the former leader of the ruling group on North Wiltshire council and an apparent heavyweight in the world of Liberal Democracy.

Aside from the other EU representatives and ten officials along for the ride, they also took a Swedish journalist, which proved to be a mistake. You see, the Russians are a generous and hospitable people, but they made the mistake of offering the delegates vodka at every opportunity and the delegates, no doubt to be polite, took every opportunity to drink it - even in official meetings (well - you can't trust the water abroad, can you?).

Perhaps it was the caviar, perhaps the excitement of the occasion or the dodgy Russian road surfaces, but one of the delegates then cheerfully vomited over the interior of their executive coach. Needless to say, the Swedish journalist concerned took great delight in publishing the details of this excursion (good excuse to practice your Swedish, there).

Perhaps someone should ask Cllr Coleman what happened on the trip, particularly in light of the Liberal Democrats' views on binge drinking. It might also be worth asking ALDE, the European group of Liberal Democrats whether she will be representing them on any future freebies fact-finding trips.

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