BBC4 aired a programme last night with the title, “Mandelson – The Real PM?”
It was enormously revealing about Lord Peter Mandelson as a person, in his extremely professional working style as a politician, as well as general demeanour as a person.
You can still watch this documentary which is about 75 minutes long here on the BBC website.
Anybody who doesn’t understand the brilliance of Mandelson clearly doesn’t ‘do’ irony. Lord Mandelson seems to embue inherent contradictions from the word go – a very guarded person privately, but a branding expert. Indeed, he is clearly very enthusiastic about marketing and branding, given his lifelong commitment to reversing the rot in Labour pre-(Blair and Campbell); he is also deeply passionate about his credentials as a professional politician, being the grandson of Herbert Morrison, Baron Morrison of Lambeth, who held the offices of Home Secretary, Foreign Security, and Deputy Prime Minister, and so he should be.
He is clearly intensely funny. The way that he makes mincemeat of low-quality journalists, especially at the BBC, was something which had me in total hysterics. He blatantly does not suffer fools gladly, and, while personally I feel he might have done better in his Prelims at the University of Oxford, he is clearly an intellectual: he has focus, enthusiasm and highly-structured analytical thoughts.
He was very driven in working for Gordon Brown, and he should indeed be proud that he was acknowledged as being the chief troubleshooter for Brown in the election campaign. He has also been remarkably full of praise for Tony Blair, about whom he is clear that he does not blame for his departure over the infamous Robinson debacle. He points his wrath very heavily in the direction of Alastair Campbell, making an extremely clever remark that he can co-exist with certain people, without liking them or being friends with me. I too am very specific regarding myself, on this point.
Mandelson shows ambition, enthusiasm and focus, with wit and extreme hard work, and he deserves to be successful. As for the ‘Prince of Darkness’ label, he has branded himself extremely successful, but Mandelson is a parody. Not being able to go beyond the depth of what he is getting at will make many people fall at the first fence. Like Andrew Gibson from the Telegraph says, he is like a supreme figure-skating champion who delights in skating over the thinnest of ice, and, like me, I suspect he enjoys fighting the most when most attacked. He does not need to worry about what people think of him – because he has won, and he knows, I hope, that he is better than his sharpest of critics.
I have been deeply cynical about Lord Mandelson previously. But not anymore – I feel honoured to give him my unfettered respect, even though I do not happen to agree with him on some issues, especially Ed Miliband.