Peter Mandelson is the Great Survivor of modern British politics. It is unlikely that any other politician would have beaten the odds as he has done, to return to government for a third time.
It is often forgotten than he and Gordon Brown go back a long time, close allies until they fell out when Mandelson supported Tony Blair to lead the redesigned Labour Party back to power.
Mandelson has many strings to his bow: he has become an expert in business and trade, through his time in government in the late 1990s, and through his later work as European Trade Commissioner. But he also brings something else: he is a master of the sometimes black art of public relations – he knows how to put a good spin on poor performance.
As Trade Secretary he worked closely with Brown, who was then Blair’s Chancellor in charge of Britain’s finances. They know each other intimately, and despite their arguments, Brown hopes Mandelson can now save Labour’s fortunes.
Veteran Labour adviser Derek Draper has welcomed Brown’s decision to bring Mandelson back into the fold:
“It is a surprise that Gordon Brown has been so strong as to set aside the rancour of 14 years ago,” said Draper. “But, the Prime Minister wants the best people, the best ministers around his cabinet table.”
With Labour trailing badly in the polls, and the economy buffeted by the global financial whirlwind, the race to the next election has entered the final laps. And Mandelson has joined Brown’s bid for victory.