James Forsyth

Mandelson’s lines to take for the press

Mandelson’s lines to take for the press
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Peter Mandelson’s spat with Starbucks is clearly over. In February he went on a tirade after seeing the chairman of Starbucks talking the UK economy down on US TV: “Why should I have this guy running down the country? Who the fuck is he? How the hell are they [Starbucks] doing?" But today he is pictured on the front of G2 drinking out of a Starbucks cup.

The most interesting thing, though, about the G2 interview is how Mandelson seems determined to almost write it himself, producing quotable line after quotable line. When Mandelson describes himself as a “kindly pussycat” or details how Carole Caplin converted him to green tea back in 1994 and that his “diet chiefly involves me being hungry” he knows that this stuff is too good not to use. As with the Robert Crampton interview in The Times, Mandelson has chosen to be good copy and given the interview to a journalist talented enough to do him justice.

Up to now, the inability of Mandelson to manage his own image has been one of the great contradictions of his career. But third time round, he is almost completely in control of it. By opening up and playing up to the gallery, he has created his own persona. By being such good copy, he has made the press obsessed with him but in a way that helps him. The master of media manipulation has finally worked out how to manipulate the media for his own benefit.