Peter mandelson

Lord Mandelson’s City outreach

‘We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich’, once drawled Peter Mandelson, ‘as long as they pay their taxes.’ And it seems the socialist Svengali is practising what he preached, with his latest appointment at a new British bank. William Hague famously mocked the New Labour spin doctor for his many honorifics during the dying days of Gordon Brown’s government – ‘it would be no surprise to wake up in the morning and find that he had become an Archbishop’ – and now Mandelson has a new title to add to his collection. For the Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county

James Kirkup

Both sides are to blame for killing soft Brexit

Peter Mandelson’s remainer credentials are impeccable. He is a former European Commissioner who helped run Britain Stronger In and then the People’s Vote (PV) campaign. He is as committed and eloquent a champion of EU membership as you’ll find. Which makes his Brexit intervention in the Guardian so important: All the new benefits from every global trade deal we could ever aspire to will not begin to equal the size of our present European trade. This is the price we will pay for the triumph of hardline Tory Brexiters over those with a stronger sense of national interest in their party. It is also the price the rest of us in the pro-EU

How we killed comedy theatre: Nigel Planer interviewed

Nigel Planer is on a mission to bring farce back to the West End. ‘There’s a lot of snobbery in comedy,’ he tells me when we meet at a hotel bar near the Old Vic. ‘People say, “Oh that’s comedy. It can’t have any meaning”.’ The actor and writer is still best known for playing Neil the hippie in the 1980s sitcom The Young Ones and he can recall a time when farce was a staple of London theatre. ‘I remember going along and really enjoying myself, you know, a nice big cast, actors falling over, characters treating someone differently because they think it’s someone else. All that stuff simply

In Hartlepool, I’m aiming for a noble defeat

By the time you read this you may know if the Tories triumphed in the Hartlepool by-election — or if, in the end, the party was too badly wounded by all that business about who paid for whose wallpaper. Boris Johnson visited the town more times than he visited Scotland in the campaign, so he certainly sensed victory. But who can predict elections nowadays? One thing, alas, is all but certain: I will have lost. I decided to stand as an independent candidate at the last minute, motivated by how much I loathe the apparatchiks at both main parties’ London HQs — disconnected, mediocre and disdainful. Just look at their

Mandelson’s return is a sign of Labour’s problems

It is instructive that, faced with his first wobbles as leader of the opposition, the person Keir Starmer has reached for is Peter Mandelson. From the sounds of things, Mandelson is working with Starmer’s team on communications and strategy. I certainly don’t think this is a bad idea by Starmer, at least as far as recent Labour party appointees go, but I can’t help but feel that Mandelson’s return to the top says a lot about Labour’s problems, how they got into their current mess and where those issues might lead the party from here. Part of the problem is that the Labour party has been hollowed out talent-wise. Under

Mandelson’s story could have been so very different

Matt Forde, the stand-up comedian and presenter of his regular Political Party Podcast, has hit on an overlooked technique for getting the most out of big-name interviewees. He pretends to know nothing. Wide-eyed and star-struck (actually he is neither), Forde puts them at their ease in conversation with an apparent fanboy ingénue. ‘Do keep up, Matt,’ said Peter Mandelson, affectionately, as in his Christmas holiday interview Forde claimed to be unaware of some half-forgotten political turbulence that Lord Mandelson, his star interviewee, once encountered. It worked a treat. Lord Mandelson is normally a wary interviewee, but with Forde I have never heard him so unguarded: more confessional even than in

We’ll never know whether Huawei is still listening

This column has been banging on about the peculiar nature of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, ever since its expanded presence in the UK won what I described as ‘grateful applause from David Cameron’ back in 2012. I have deployed everything from serious intelligence sources to laborious knock-knock jokes (‘Huawei who?’ ‘Who are we kidding, prime minister? We don’t need to knock on your front door when we’ve already got a backdoor device in the Downing Street switchboard’) to make my point that the proliferation of Huawei kit in UK telecoms networks represented an obvious but unquantifiable security risk. Which means I can’t disagree with the government’s belated decision to