Friday, October 03, 2008

Nine Lives

Guess who's back
Back again
Mandy's back!
Tell a friend...

Well well well. Eleven years, three parliaments and two sackings later, Peter Mandelson is to be welcomed back to Westminster for a third ride on the gravy train. At least that's what it must seem like for him. I can't work out whether this is a move of desperation or genius on El Gordo's part, but I'm leaning heavily toward the former. What on earth was Brown thinking? Peter Mandelson has been appointed Business Secretary, and the obvious answer is that he's had top-notch training by spending the last four years as the EU's Trade Commissioner.

And yet.

The tokenism and showmanship currently dominating US politics has obviously made its way across the pond, for what other possible justification could Brown have for bringing back someone he despises back into the heart of his own cabinet? Pa Broon isn't exactly famous for reaching out to his arch-rivals in the Blairite camp. And I can't believe that there isn't anyone else in the country better qualified for the Business Secretary role than someone who's been kicked out of cabinet over shady dealings, not once but twice.

By inviting Mandy back to Westminster, Brown will presumably be hoping to recapture some of the public enthusiasm for Labour following their '97 election victory (although picking a character viewed so controversially does seem a bit blinkered at best). The one part of the plan that does have a whiff of genius is that Mandelson will effectively be gagged. Gone are the days when he could fire off a piece for the Mirror or Times, laying into Gordon. For a start, Blair is out of office, but the real difference is that Labour are no longer operating from a position of safety. More cabinet dissent now will only serve to hasten their demise, and Mandy will need to toe the line if he wants to keep his job. Unless, of course, he's secretly planning to offer his services to the Tories once Cameron takes the top job! Nothing surprises me these days.


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