As so often since his return to British politics, Mandelson delivered lines that were so memorable that they were bound to make it into copy. He said that the Tories “would strangle the recovery at birth”, that David Cameron was “bobbing around like a cork in water”, and that George Osborne was the Tories’ “weakest link”. As I type, Mandleson’s sound bites are being replayed yet again on News 24.
Now, these lines aren’t going to cut through to the British public. But I think Mandelson, at the moment, is quite happy just to shape how the Westminster press see the situation. It is imperative that when George Osborne gives his big economy speech tomorrow he breaks free of Labour’s intellectual prism. He also needs to lay out again just how much damage Labour has done to the public finances and why more of the same medicine won’t restore the British economy to health.
One thing that was noticeable about Mandleson today is just how much he is enjoying himself at the moment. He took great pleasure, and with his tongue firmly in cheek, complimenting Nick Robinson on the BBC’s interviews of Cameron and Osborne yesterday. When challenged why he had flown first class back from Davos while the Mayor of London had travelled in economy, Mandelson said there was no first class on the flight before adding mournfully ‘it wasn’t offered’.