Peter Mandelson’s Machiavellian streak runs deep. Like the wily Florentine,
to retire to the country to farm and be close to the earth; but first, there is the small
matter of a book for political princes. In this morning’s Times, Mandelson has written
an exhaustive plug for his forthcoming book, The Third Man: Life at the heart of New
Labour. In the course of writing his publisher’s press release, Mandelson makes two important points: one historical and one current.
He admits his greatest mistake was to broker Blair and Brown’s deal in 1994; the soap opera that followed, Mandelson argues, would never had occurred had they fought it out there and then. He
welcomes the current contest, and urges the candidates that whilst they should distance themselves from New Labour’s terminology they must not discard its precepts. A new troupe of actors
will improvise the old script.
Amid whispers of a lurch to the left and the two Eds’ avowed statism, Mandelson reminds his party, gently, that elections are won from the centre. Mandelson will not play an active role in
this leadership campaign, but David Miliband is the candidate closest to his way of thinking: the article is a tacit endorsement.