If ever there was an example of the ‘Westminster Village’ getting itself worked up into a lather over a news story then the row over benefits is it. Every Lobby journalist attending the big parties of last night - Policy Exchange and News International - at some point in conversation wanted to find out what others thought of the proposed benefit reforms.
Many wanted to hear their views reaffirmed by others, while a number of journalists simply refused to listen to reason that the reforms - scrapping child benefits for higher earners - would be welcomed by the majority of the country.
It was no surprise then to see the negative coverage in today's newspapers, allowing the story to limp on to a third day. While The Independent's splash was probably the most over-the-top, suggesting that the Prime Minister is being battered by events and that the Tories are in turmoil, the Daily Telegraph suggest George Osborne was rushed into making the benefits announcement. I wonder who IDS was dining with last night?
The most interesting conversation I had regarding the row was with a former political editor who gave a great summary of how and why the story had developed. The proposed cuts matter to the Westminster Village because they directly impact on those who inhabit the village. Journalists and politicians alike are exactly the kind of people who, relative to large parts of the population, do very nicely.
While The Sun has a poll today saying 83% of people support these proposed reforms, none of those taking part in the poll will have been drinking wine at last night's parties. Essentially, very few of those questioned will do quite as well as those from the Westminster Village currently on tour in Birmingham.