Lord Mandelson of Somewhere-or-Other

Here’s a riddle for you.  What does Peter Mandelson have in common with Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen?  Answer: Both could believe half a dozen impossible things before breakfast.  Trouble is, in Mandelson’s case, he not only believes them (or appears to believe them), but he also announces them to a breathless, waiting world, and to the media, and to the Labour Party Conference.
 
Let’s take just one of these aperçus of the spin-meister.  “We want to be, not big spenders, but wise spenders”,  he tells us.  But hang on.  Isn’t this the Labour government that’s been in power for a dozen years?  Who had a dour Scotsman as Chancellor for a decade, and then promoted him to be the Queen’s First Minister?  The Chancellor who hosed money at every problem, who failed to mend the roof while the sun shone, who increased doctors’ salaries beyond their hopes and expectations, and dramatically reduced productivity and value for money in the NHS?  Who increased the bloated public sector by nearly a million people?  Who created vastly complex and expensive tax credit welfare schemes, and set out to redistribute wealth, and to build the client state, and to make most of the population dependent wholly or partly on government largesse?
 
When I worked in business, we had a good recruiting rule: that the best guide to what an applicant would do in a new job was what they had done in previous jobs.  Labour have a solid track record as big spenders, not wise spenders.  They won’t change now.
 
Meantime Peter’s colleague Darling tells us we should stick to a “tried and tested government”, rather than going out on a limb with a less experienced opposition.  He’s half right.   It is indeed a tried and tested government.  It has been tried and tested to destruction, and found wanting, which is precisely why it has slipped below the Lib-Dems in the polls.  Finally forced to retreat from Gordon’s mantra of “Labour investment or Tory cuts” by the implacable logic of economics, Darling is now contrasting Labour’s compassionate and responsible cuts with the Conservatives’ “swinging the axe” cuts.  I’m sure that the classroom assistant or the nursing auxiliary going home with her P45 will take great comfort from the reflection that she lost her job through a compassionate and responsible Labour cut, rather than from a cynical Tory cut.
 
Finally we have senior Labour backbencher Tony Wright aiming to “rejuvenate politics” with regular annual referenda on “controversial issues”.  Great idea, Tony, but who gets to choose the issue?  You want electoral reform.  But the people want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and maybe capital punishment or immigration after that.  Be careful what you ask for, Mr. Wright, lest you find you get it.  The referendum on the Lisbon Treaty could well arrive within twelve months.

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