Fact: unsourced rumours circulated in the media last weekend that Lord Mandelson had rescued the Government by smoothing ruffled feathers in India after the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, “mishandled” his visit there.
Surmise: The source of these rumours was Peter Mandelson.
Fact: Miliband has entertained ambitions for the Labour leadership.
Surmise: Mandelson wants to finish off Miliband's hopes.
Fact: It has been reported that Mandelson believes Gordon Brown is rubbish.
Surmise: His Lordship has somebody else in mind as leader.
I'm serious. Labour's Christmas sugar-rush of optimism that all might not be lost is fading. The polls are tipping back down. Next will come despair. After despair comes mutiny. By summer, I bet gossip resurfaces about a pre or post-election leadership challenge. Lord Mandelson has not re-entered politics in order to sink with Mr Brown's ship.
Fact: But Mandelson is in the Lords.
Fact: So, once, was Anthony Wedgwood Benn. So was the 14th Earl of Home. So was the 2nd Viscount Hailsham.
Fact: But Labour would never choose him.
Surmise: A chap can dream, can't he?