Patrick Wintour’s piece on Peter Mandelson in today’s Guardian
is the most thorough explanation that we’ve had yet of Mandelson’s ‘Garbo-esque silence’ since the PBR. Mandelson was clearly intensely frustrated and disillusioned by the PBR, and the presentation of it, backing away from his smart cuts strategy and instead returning to the crude investment versus cuts dividing line. One also gets the impression that Mandelson was irritated by Brown’s fundamental failings as a politician. Wintour writes that those who spoke to Mandleson before Christmas “heard a man frustrated by the prime minister's lack of focus, decision-making capacity, and strategic guile.”
One thing that jumped out at me is that Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper were pushing in the PBR negotiations for the 50p rate to hit anyone earning over £100,000. We can be pretty sure that this will return as an issue in any post-election Labour leadership contest. Intriguingly, though, Wintour reports that even Balls has privately aired concerns about Brown’s electability.