James Forsyth James Forsyth

The Brown-Mandelson relationship

Donald Macintyre has a fantastic essay on the Brown-Mandelson relationship in this week’s New Statesman. Two things in it stand out. First, Blair cautioned Alastair Campbell against going back into government but encouraged Mandelson to do so:

“Blair’s advice, similarly solicited by Alastair Campbell, whom Brown also offered more or less any job he wanted, was more equivocal. Campbell refused the job offer; he had built another life, which he enjoyed.”

Second, when Mandelson and Brown were at their most detached, Brown still called Mandelson on the death of his mother:

“Even during the worst of the feud, the bond was never quite broken. When Mandelson’s mother, Mary, the daughter of Herbert Morrison and the most formative political influence of his life, died in 2006, during yet another peak of Brown-Mandelson hostilities, Brown telephoned Mandelson in Brussels to express his condolences. The conversation was awkward but the call was memorable enough for Mandelson to report it to his closest friends.”

There is a great book to be written on the Mandelson-Brown relationship. The falling out was so bitter, because the previous period had been so intense. As Macintyre notes Brown even wrote the peroration of Mandelson’s speech to the selection committee in Washington. One gets the sense that one should not underestimate Mandelson’s desire to bring his old friend home from the front with dignity.

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