PM: “I don’t regard him as an alright chap or a bad chap, I mean how can you judge?”FN: “I thought you knew him a little bit.”PM: “I’ve met the chap three times, once in a meeting which was a formal meeting, once briefly in Corfu, because again I arrived at 11 o’clock at night and he left at half past eight the next morning and then briefly the other night or two weeks ago. But the whole thing is flammed up in such a ridiculous way, anyway.”
What really cracked me up, though, was his retirement plans. First, his timescale: 15 to 20 years. I know the guy has good claim to be politically immortal, but the idea of his striding the political stage at Christmas 2029? But he then revealed that he would like to be a farmer. Here’s the interview from the extract...
‘’If you ask me where in 15 or 20 years’ time I’d like to be, it will be probably on a farm somewhere close to the land, getting up early in the morning... I want to be near land. I want to be able to grow my own food. Look after my own farm animals, worry about the weather and get the timing of my harvest right. Listen to Farming Today. [He used to listen to this in Brussels, because if his early rises and the time difference
‘If I could live in the countryside rather than London now, I’d do it like a shot. If I had an old English country garden that I could tend, I would love it. If I had farmland that I could cultivate and animals to look after, it would give me great enjoyment... I care about these things. I like properly grown food from organic soil. I don’t like processed and I don’t like packaged.’ But Lord Mandelson — tending animals? ‘I’m not so good with pigs. But I would love chickens because I like fresh eggs. If I could rustle together some sheep, I would be very happy, or even the odd cow.’ He says all of this with the straightest of faces. ‘But please don’t run away with the idea that I see this life around the corner. I don’t. It’s for a future life — or it’s for none at all. But you’re entitled to dream.’”
We asked our caricaturist, Paul Dallimore, to dream: the result is the image above. Say what you like about Mandelson (and many of you will) but in a dull world of political clones he represents first class entertainment. And it would be a brave man to claim that the Mandy show is anywhere near over.