Monday, August 10, 2009


Mandelson's Astonishing Rise from the Dead

Occasionally in the study of politics, someone comes along who seems so brilliantly original you feel they must be a fictional invention rather than a living breathing and, in Mandy's case, epicine slim, Cabinet minister. Decca Aitkenhead's excellent interview gets to the heart of this complex man I felt. Twice sacked and conveniently packed away by Blair to Brussels, he seemed already by the time of the last election, a mere half chapter in New Labour's history.

But history clearly had another role in store for him. Gordon Brown proved so hopeless as prime minister, he reached out for the one person apart from Blair with much more talent than he had to help him. Bringing back The Prince of Darkness, has proved the most inspirational purely political thing Brown has done- OK then, maybe the only one. Like a competent new batsman coming to the crease after a catastrophic clatter of wickets-no prizes for discerning where that analogy came from- he has quietened down the dressing room and helped the team to raise its game. He cannot deliver victory but, crucially, maybe he can help his team to not lose so badly.

He is on 35 of the 43 Cabinet committees and, according to his interviewer, is already producing the apprearance of shape to key policy areas:

By all accounts he is a first-class minister, and in recent weeks the green shoots of a coherent government programme – on transport, climate change, social care – have been attributed to his influence.

Almost certainly his real attitude to Brown, as to so many people, is not of admiration, but pitying condescension; some of this comes over in the article. However, I like better the image produced by Steve Punt in Last Friday's Now Show when he compared Gordon and Mandy to the pantomime cartoon characters, the suave Dick Dastardly and the hopeless Muttley.

Aitkenhead reinforces this by assessing his present degree of power:

With 11 ministers answering directly to him, Mandelson's department is the now the biggest in Whitehall – but to describe him as Brown's de facto deputy is if anything to understate his position. He is arguably more powerful today than the prime minister himself.

Within the Westminister village, we learn there is much talk of Mandelson renouncing his peerage to come back in 2010 as an MP and stand for the Labour leadership; Hilary Armstrong's North-west Durham seat has even been mentioned. And Ladrokes have reduced the odds on such an eventuality in recent weeks, from 200-1 to 16-1: generous odds I'd say, given Mandy's history and the degree of hatred he inspired in his own party. Extending the cricket analogy, such an outcome would be like Ian Botham coming back into the Test team to hit a double century against the Aussies at the Oval.

I don't think there is any chance of that happening. Why would Mandelson bother being an MP? He has all the perks and none of the responsibility(ie. the fear that most Labour MPs should have of losing their seat and livelihoods next June).

The bigger constitutional question is why Brown(and Blair before him) overlook elected MPs(who theoretically have the confidence of the people) in favour of their mates in the Lords. This is especially a problem when most people are fully aware that many members of the Lords bought their seats with donations to the Labour Party. This Government has failed on Lord's reform as it has failed on so much else. I trust Dave will tighten this up when the time comes.
Now that I can agree with, with Brown it's simple he needs a few masters to tell him what to do.

master or masturbates, not sure anymore.
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