Peter Hoskin

A fine line between love and hatred for Peter Mandelson

A fine line between love and hatred for Peter Mandelson
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So far as Downing Street is concerned, this morning's Sunday Times cover is a presentational nightmare. It reports that Peter Mandelson is calling on Brown to make him Foreign Secretary – a move which would create all kinds of internal difficulties for the PM. Sounds a little bizarre to me: we all know that Mandelson would, in theory, like the role which was once occupied by his grandfather, but would he really want it under such controversial circumstances and for what would likely be only six months? Perhaps not. But, true or no', it still feeds into the idea that the government is divided and self-obsessed.

It's also the kind of story which could loosen Mandelson's grip on the government. Over the past year he's enjoyed a remarkable renaissance within the Labour Party. Many Labour types you speak to now regard him as some sort of folk hero; someone who returned, and who has strived, for the good of the party. But claims like those made this morning might act to burst that bubble. As one Labour acquaintance of mine put it: "If this is true, then it's all been a sham – he's just as vain as ever." Take it as a reminder of how fine the divide is between love and hatred for our Business Secretary.