Tonight’s big story had looked set to be Lord Mandelson’s big interview in the Times - ahead of the serialisation of his memoirs next week in that newspaper.
But his interview with Ginny Dougary – an attempt to get under the skin of the peer – does not seem to have been a huge success; judging by her own comments. At one point she describes his “abhorrence of laying himself bare.”
Elsewhere she suggests that his manners are “not all that brilliant” after he ignores her coughing fit. When she compliments him on his “amazing house” he replies defensively: “In what way, ‘amazing’?”
Mandelson plays the other-worldly card, suggesting he has never heard of “moisturiser” or “hair products” such as waxes and gels. (Remember when he said he had never heard of DelBoy or Michael Jackson?)
At one point he claims that all he desires from life is to be at one with Mother Nature: “Fresh air, scenery, animals, trees, walks, to be near or on a farm, and a river . . . that’s really all I want.” Is this truly credible?
Dougary concludes: “For whatever reason, he did not feel compelled to demonstrate his more attractive qualities to me.”
Mandelson also talks at some length about the Blair-Mandelson-Brown feud, saying that Blair had to devote too much time to the “insurgency” next door. After the Rawnsley revelations, however, this doesn’t feel particularly fresh.
More fun, however, is his admitting that perhaps he should have been PM himself:
“I felt at the end of my term in office I had better and greater qualities to be a prime minister than I had at the beginning.”
Lastly, as James Lyons observes: Mandy also says he only reads one newspaper – and it isn’t the Times.