Fiona Apple has a song, ‘Limp’ which, although directed at a former lover, might well be usefully directed at our old friend Lord Mandelson of Hartlepool, Mortgage Application and Passport Protocol.
In the past, if Mandy gave a major policy speech, the serried ranks of Trades Unions, newspaper and TV interviewers would be whip-cracked into line to provide him with the full spectrum media blitz on which he thrives. He would zip from studio to studio, only too pleased to reiterate principle and target nuance. And get a boot in.
The preamble to his substantial policy intervention at LSE on Monday instantly hit the buffers of a Nick Robinson, and the Mandelson magic was gone. Nick Robinson, who has matured in recent months to be a dogged inquisitor, nailed the Dark Lord, when he noted that not even Peter Mandelson can rewrite well documented history. No matter how often Mandelson says the dividing line is not cuts and investment, collective amnesia from the electorate is not generally worth betting on. The LSE speech missed its mark.
Another set of setbacks came a little later, with two unions at the TUC called bullshit on the public sector cuts announcements Labour politicos have been making under their breaths.
Mandy’s magic is gone. Every U-Turn looks like an embarrassing admission of policy failure. And doubly so for the Prime Minister.