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Choosing your own executioner

IN medieval Scotland, condemned men could choose their executioner. So, it seems, has Gordon Brown.

By taking Peter ‘Plots-R-Us’ Mandelson back to the Cabinet, our PM has taken the biggest gamble of his life.

He has dropped a piranha into the fish tank—hoping it will munch away at his enemies, not him. Bless.

You can see the seductive logic. Mandy is a bloodied, brutal fighter. A heavyweight in a Cabinet of nobodies.

He has just served Britain brilliantly as EU trade commissioner, out-scheming the French and Germans.

So Gordo will simply repatriate him, make him a Lord, then put his skills to use fighting David Cameron’s Tory party.

It is a brilliant coup de theatre from Gordo, dumbfounding those who say he’s an indecisive, cowardly ditherer.

Even Mandy’s worst enemy (plenty of competition for that role) won’t deny he’s a devastatingly effective operator.

Just look abroad. You can bet Nicolas Sarkozy will be punching the air so high, he might reach his wife’s chin.

While Mandy’s title is Business Minister (a non-job) his real job is Minister for Taking the Blame.

Gordo is bored being the only villain in the panto. And Mandy is to British politics what Nick Cotton is to EastEnders.

So from now on, the media will have plenty of fun sparring with the Prince of Darkness. Gordo will look like the nice guy. All this is fine—in theory. But it’s easy to predict how this will all go wrong. In fact, you can write the script.

First, people twig that Brown’s new economic plan is a con. All he’s done is rename an old committee, blowing hot air.

His National Economic Council will have as much impact on the economy as the new Climate Change department will on climate.

Unemployment and repossessions will rise. When businesses close, Lord Mandy will be wheeled out as Business Minister.

Sooner or later, he’ll tire of having rotten vegetables thrown his way and point the finger to Gordo’s record.

Remember they’ve been at war for the best part of two decades “We’ve had our ups and downs” he says. Just like Iraq and Iran. As Alastair Campbell put it another way in his diaries “Gordon and Peter really do hate each other.”

So rather than take Mandy’s advice, Brown will rely on his old mates. He’ll lose next month’s by-election in Glenrothes.

A Cold War opens, lasting until the European elections next spring when Brown leads Labour into the mother of all defeats.

Then Mandy sits at the Cabinet table, looking at all the long faces and thinks: Right then, who’s up for a bit of mutiny?

I used to say the “rebellion” against Brown was a shiver, looking for a spine to run down. Now they have the spine.

From now on, there is—for the first time—an alternate power base. A big cat-stroking Peter Mandelson, who can’t help himself.

You could plonk him in a nunnery and he’d have rebellion whipped up by Christmas. It’s just in his nature.

Dogs bark. Cats miaow. Peter Mandelson plots. It’s the natural way of the world, and no peace deal will change it.

In theory, it could work. But I’ve spoken to enough people in 10 Downing Street to know that Gordo won’t take advice. For the last few months, his survival has depended on the Cabinet’s inability to say boo to a goose.

Now, it will depend on managing Mandy. And I have to hand it to Gordo: It’s an audacious, incredible bet. If nothing else, he’s given us a far better drama. I don’t know how or when it will all end. But we can rely on one thing: With Mandy on board, when the end comes, it will be spectacular.



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