First, Mandelson repeatedly criticises the Tories for, what he calls, their “undisguised glee” at the need for spending cuts. I suspect that this is how Labour will counter any attempt by the Tories to specify what cuts they would make. One party’s straight talk is another’s undisguised glee.
Mandelson also kept stressing that Labour were “the underdogs”, “the insurgents”. Two reasons for him doing this spring to mind. First, he wants to frame the next election as a choice between Labour and the Tories rather than as a referendum on this government’s performance. Second, he is trying to push the media into devoting as much time to scrutinising the Tory party’s plans as it does to critiquing the government’s record. Say what you like about Mandelson, but he is one of the few people in the Labour party still thinking strategically.