Sunday, June 14, 2009

If you read one thing today....

I would strongly recommend making it this superb analysis of events atop the New Labour project in the last few weeks from Andrew Rawnsley. He is particularly incisive on the relationship between Brown and Mandelson:

"What's he up to?" one senior Tory exclaimed to me the other day, simply unable to comprehend why Peter Mandelson saved Gordon Brown, the man with whom he conducted such an epically gory feud for 14 years before he returned to the cabinet last autumn. "They hate each other!"
Well, yes they did, but weirdly enough they have always loved each other too. It all goes back to the highly charged days that followed John Smith's death in 1994. Before then, Peter Mandelson was closer to Gordon Brown than he was to Tony Blair. It was the rational choice to back the younger Blair for leader when he was much more popular in the polls, with the media and with senior colleagues. Yet it provoked a wholly irrational response from Gordon Brown. The years of hate were so poisonous precisely because they were preceded by love.
Since his return, the two have rediscovered what they admired in each other before the great rupture. Peter tells friends that he has been "reintroduced" to Gordon's "good qualities. Gordon has clung to Peter's presentational flair, tactical nous, coolness in a crisis and loyalty in a crunch. It is highly doubtful that he would have survived the last fortnight without the presence of Baron Mandelson, the self-described "Prince of Stability" who bound in other members of the cabinet and guarded the Blairite flank.

The article is rich with Rawnsley's usual very funny epithets and spot-on judgments. I had quite a chuckle, as I read it in the sun in Newbury's "Peace Garden" (or one of them, by the canal). It occurred to me that Mr Rawnsley is very much my "high Priest" of political matters. I have read and enjoyed his columns ever since he was a slip of a lad fresh, from Uni, writing sketches in the Guardian and winning the "Newcomer of the Year" award. It is hard to imagine the British political scene without him.

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