29 October 2009

Not Mandy again

Speculation is obviously the media buzz word of the week.  Andrew Pierce has had enough of all the Tony Blair talk and devotes his column to the possibility of Mandy taking over from Brown.

Behind this latest wheeze is The Constitutional Reform Bill, which will allow Mandy to take questions in the Commons.  According to Pierce, logic dictates that this will lead straight to Downing Street.  He quotes a senior party figure close to Blair:

Peter is easily the most impressive [performer] we have got.  It's true many of us have been talking about finding a way that he could do it. He gets things done. He has credibility. He's the only one who scares the Tories.

Perhaps this Blairite is not up to speed with Mandy's role in postal dispute.  Moreover, there is no evidence that he scares the Tories.

Pierce has also worked out (briefed, more likely) how Mandy could be parachuted back into the Commons:

As caretaker leader, Lord Mandelson could, according to the plotters, soldier on to the election or pick his moment to fight a safe seat. Hilary Armstrong, the former Labour chief whip with a solid 13,443 majority in Durham North West, is standing down at the election, and the guarantee of a peerage might persuade her to go earlier. Other seats in Labour's heartlands could also be fixed in return for a suitable bauble for the retiring Labour MP.

So, we may have an unnecessary by-election in the middle of winter for the sake of Mandy’s career.  Pierce is obviously not old enough to remember what happened to Patrick Gordon Walker.

Oh, then there is the small matter of Mandy's lack of popular appeal with non-Blairite Labour MPs, the unions and the electorate.

It would be a much better use of Mandy’s time to manage the succession to Alan Johnson and then, with Alastair Campbell, planning the election campaign.  Mandy is a good number No 2, but is no leader.  The Gordon Brown experience should tell him that. 

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