Friday, 23 July 2010
An evening with the prince of darkness
I don't often get much time for a personal life, instead working late into the evening on vital tasks for Relu (at least that's what I tell our Director) but last night Peter Mandelson was promoting his new book "The Third Man" at the Civic Centre in Newcastle. What spin doctor could resist the opportunity of seeing the master in action? He was being interviewed by Times columnist Phil Collins and it was a smooth double act. That's not surprising, given that this was the final date of a sustantial book tour. I wondered whether the questions and responses were exactly the same at each appearance or whether they agreed just beforehand that they would play the 4 3 2 1 - or the 8 5 9 0 - (as you can see, I know nothing about football). Either way, I didn't feel we learned anything new about the New Labour project. Perhaps it has all been told, but I had hoped we might find out more about what makes Peter Mandelson tick. He cast himself very much in the role of kingmaker and it will be interesting to see whether Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will produce accounts that substantiate this. But, whatever the degree of truth in the telling, I would like to have known whether he was content with the role. Has he never hankered to be an acknowledged leader, rather than a power behind the throne? Mandelson fulfilling the ambition of his initials is an unlikely picture for most of us, but how does he feel about that public and media reaction? He wasn't telling. It was a polished performance but he we didn't see below the veneer. I suspect the book is equally circumspect so I think I will wait for the paperback edition before I buy it.