Leaving aside who initiated the “I am in charge for the summer’ slot on Newsnight, Nick Robinson’s interview with Mandy was a revelation. Seventeen minutes were devoted to his Lordship. Firstly, a short profile of his rise to greatness and then the interview in his office. Did you notice the carefully positioned ministerial red box in the background to give the impression he is hard at work, while Brown is watching Thomas the Tank Engine with his boys. The man doesn't miss a trick.
Nick Robinson probed Mandy on why he wouldn't use the word ‘cuts’ and the real prime minister was very uncomfortable with the line of questioning. He doesn't like being challenged and is a sensitive old boy at heart, which makes him rather lovable. However, it was when the interview moved on to more weightier matters than the economy that the fun started.
On the election:
Of course it's difficult, and of course we're coming from behind.
But that's precisely why we've got to, after all this time in office, work even harder to demonstrate that we have the ideas and the policies but also the discipline to bring to government.
It's going to be harder for us, in other words, to be insurgents rather than simply incumbents.
"It's going to be harder for us to convince people in the way that we need to do that we are going to continue to be, as I say, the change-makers in British politics.
And to the finale that will be picked over endlessly:
I can't just migrate from one chamber to another.
Given all the political comebacks that I've made in my political career becoming prime minister might be a comeback too many.
You will note the phase “might be” when he could have used “would be”. Alternatively, he could have ruled the whole matter out by saying that he would not leave the Lords even if the law is changed. Not Mandy's style. Keep the guessing game going, but he knows it will not happen. There isn't the time and to have a by-election that would dominate the news for a month is not clever, even if the polls were more favourable to Labour. The electorate would not take kindly to Labour playing musical chairs with unelected politicians. Mandy isn't stupid.
Mandy is resigned to the fact that it is all over for Brown. Mandy knows that Cameron will win the election campaign hands down against Brown (like the rest of us he watches PMQs). He knows that Cameron has won the “cuts” debate. He knows that Brown can’t communicate. He knew fifteen years ago that Brown wouldn't make a good PM.
So, what is Mandy going to do about it? Is he going to move against Brown? That remains the mystery of Labour’s summer of love.
PS. Can anyone remember when Brown has subjected himself to an interview on Newsnight whilst Labour has been in office? Don't think too hard.