After being accused of being teetotal on Question Time, health secretary Andy Burnham will have been keen to prove otherwise at the Department of Health’s annual drinks reception for journalists last week.

Sipping wine and munching canapés, he looked relaxed despite the sauna like conditions as he mingled with press, albeit under the watchful glare of his new special adviser.

The media officers were the consummate hosts, plying their guests with booze and M&S food, which was a marked improvement on last year’s fruit and peanuts, End Game is told. And next year’s reception could be equally swanky after Mr Burnham promised Labour would not force the DH to provide “10 per cent fewer peanuts” if still in power next year, in a not so oblique reference to shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley’s spending cuts announcement.