Sunday, June 07, 2009

Mandelson Slivers Through Marr Interview

Peter Mandelson has just given a highly entertaining, if unrevealing, interview with Andrew Marr. He stonewalled for most of the interview, but the one thing Mandelson unwittingly gave away was that Brown did indeed want Balls to be Chancellor. Paul Waugh has just twittered that his use of the words "surprised and disappointed" by Purnell's resignation were exactly the same ones which were used in the leaked Labour memo to MPs.

Mandelson also accused Caroline Flint of lying. He said she could have attended Cabinet every week if she had wanted to. She says she was only invited once. They can't both be right. Perhaps she'd like to accuse Peter Mandelson what he has accused her of.

At the end of the interview Mandelson said the only thing which would bring Brown down would be if someone stood against him. It was an open invitation. Will anyone take it up?



Mandy is being at his most odious lying self.

Unsworth said...

Mandelson is pointing out the difference between 'invitation' and 'attendance'. As always, look at the detail.

Marr at his incisive best, as usual. The guy's a complete milksop.

Anonymous said...

Marr is a novice who couldn't handle the evasive slithery Mandelson. However, I'm guessing that ludicrous interview will have made some of Mandelson's present and former colleagues incandescent - it could backfire.

As for Sugar - he clearly doesn't realise what he has let himself in for - his interview was just a joke!
Posted by Delilah

Michaela said...

Marr's "Very good" was the most significant part of the timorous interview-Can you imagine the Chubby One giving The Delusional/Deceitful One such an easy ride?

talwin said...

Mandelson's serpent-like persona suggests he might have slithered through the interview.

Boo said...

The guy may be slimy, but he can do his job well.

Though I did think it interesting that he could neither comfirm or deny that there were over 100 people signing on to gordon must go.

Anonymous said...

marr is an apologist for this shower.

enough said.

the bbc should not have marr on this show.
he must go when labour fall.

Anonymous said...

Mind, it was a shame Marr didn't allow Mandelson a bit more rope when he was 'explaining' why Blears resigned - I have a feeling from his oleaginous pained face that he was going to blame her expenses as he was certainly making it clear it wasn't due to any problem with Brown - and had he done so, that could have lit the Blears touchpaper.....

Still, we'll never know.
Posted as Delilah

Anonymous said...

"Slivers" Iain? Shurely Shnakey Mandy should be "slithers"?

Ok I'm going...

John K said...

I have to hand it to Mandelson - he ran rings round Andrew Marr, who is personally a very nice chap but completely out of his depth when confronted by a snake like the Dark Lord.

It's now clear that no-one is going to challenge Brown. They will play for time.

They have to make a judgement: it's better to have the devil they know and another year's salary and expenses, than a general election now which they'd lose heavily. Mandelson implied as much.

It reminds me of the old story of the condemned man who promised to teach the emperor's horse to sing, in order to get a year's stay of execution. He explained to his fellow prisoners that a lot can happen in a year.

- The emperor might die.

- He might die.

- Or the horse might learn to sing.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Slither, perhaps?

Even Marr eventually said that he did not accept Mandelson's account of something. That means he thought he was lying.

Paul said...

I quite enjoyed Mandy's freudian slip:"People in the Cabinet think highly of Gordon Brown and are united against him."

Anonymous said...

Who's going to stand against that glistening suit?You don't know what you might catch. 'Stand in opposition to' might produce more takers.

The Huntsman said...

Importantly Lord Rumba of Rio also conceded that in the event of there being a new PM there would "inevitably" have to be an immediate general election.

He was, of course, trying to terrify backbenchers by waving their P45s under noses but this, surely, is good reason for us now to do all in our power to help the process of getting rid of Gordon The Sociopath asap.

Once that is done. all we have to do is replay that clip over and over again.

norman said...

What I liked was the last sentence William Hague said in his brief interview, something like " we see the cabinet packed with Lords reminiscent of the Victorian period". Marr , the putin look-alike should have asked Lord Sleaze like what is the point in talking about reforms when a Lord like him, an unelected person can be deputy PM. We know why BBC should be privatised as it packs its staff with Labour sympathisers like Marr.

I quite like to see Brown, Lord Sleaze and Campbell appearing together at the time of General election- the 3 most loathsome politicians in this country who collectively drive voters into voting the opposition.

Natalie said...

Well that was a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of Lord Mandelson if ever I heard one...if fact I think he was thoroughly enjoying leading that interview, dangling Andrew Marr like a cat with a mouse in his jaws...very entertaining watching a master at work....thoroughly contemptible individual though, but very entertaining!!!

Anonymous said...

'Very good' says the smirking Marr at the end! Marr was rag-dolled by Brown last week, and now this complete shower. Marr must good go, bring on Paxo or Randall.

Dr Snuggles said...

It might play well with political commentators but I doubt that sort of slippery evasiveness impresses the electorate.

John K said...

Found the proper quote. It's from Nasrudin, the Persian storyteller.

"Nasrudin was caught in the act and sentenced to die. Hauled up before the king, he was asked by the Royal Presence: "Is there any reason at all why I shouldn't have your head off right now?

To which he replied: "Oh, King, live forever! Know that I, the mullah Nasrudin, am the greatest teacher in your kingdom, and it would surely be a waste to kill such a great teacher. So skilled am I that I could even teach your favorite horse to sing, given a year to work on it."

The king was amused, and said: "Very well then, you move into the stable immediately, and if the horse isn't singing a year from now, we'll think of something interesting to do with you."

As he was returning to his cell to pick up his spare rags, his cellmate remonstrated with him: "Now that was really stupid. You know you can't teach that horse to sing, no matter how long you try."

Nasrudin's response: "Not at all. I have a year now that I didn't have before. And a lot of things can happen in a year. The king might die. The horse might die. I might die.

"And, who knows? Maybe the horse will sing."

Sounds like the Labour Party, hoping that something will happen before they have to call an election: a nice war; a major terrorist atrocity; Cameron caught having an affair; a gunpowder plot?

Gordon Brown probably now thinks that he has a year that he didn't have before. He and Mandelson will even spin their way out of the European election results.

My money is now on him holding on. But I would be VERY happy to be proved wrong!

Anonymous said...

Not totally complete on the Balls to be Chancellor line. He said that there are a number of qualified to do that job, that GB wanted AD to continue his sterling work and that he and Balls laughed at the notion on telephone...his use of "we spoke on the phone" rebuttal was also given up in support of his comments about the CF offer of regular cabinet attendance which "wasnt good enough for her". Mandelsen is very very slippery but great VFM as you say Iain. Marr sadly is an total lightweight

Anonymous said...

i'm no fan of mandelson but i thought he was formidable-having said that, he was up against someone who came over like a first year politics student. marr was NOT good. look out for the new tactic of political interviewees-leaning slightly forward and saying "hold on,hold on..." to stop an uncomfortable question in its tracks. very effective it seems.

Math Campbell said...

I'm not all that partisan with regards Tory vs. Labour, because I'm SNP and don't want either of you.
That being said, Labour are an absolute shower. I don't like the policies of Labour or Tory, but I'd venture the opinion that at least the Tory's could run a Government right now.
And I';d also like to comment on the fact no-one seems to be mentioning why exactly an un-elected man, who was twice booted out of government for various offences, then got appointed to Europe and has since been given a peerage, why he should be given power?
This is a democracy. No-one voted for Mr. Mandelson. Why is he now effectively the deputy Prime-Minister?

Anonymous said...

PM for PM!

Oldrightie said...

"Mandelson also accused Caroline Flint of lying. He said she could have attended Cabinet every week if she had wanted to."

He screwed that up to, I believe. He spoke of a telephone call in which he, Mandy, had said she could attend in future. My take was that he was trying to stop her resignation and address that criticism to try and keep her.

Anonymous said...

Actually, although I mentioned upthread that some of Mandelson's colleagues will be hopping mad, *I'm* hopping mad - he has just perfectly demonstrated how much power he has, yet how unaccountable his is.

Unelected. Calling the shots at No10. Unaccountable to parliament. And unaccountable to the electorate in that even in an interview with the state telly's softest hack, he simply refuses to answer questions and refuses to account for his actions.

Even if I wanted to support Labour's policies - and I don't - I would vote against them simply to ensure that an unaccountable unelected arrogant autocratic dishonest control freak like Mandelson cannot rise to such a position of almost complete power. He is a dangerous and dishonest man.
Delilah (again!)

dearieme said...

Marrslicker must go.

Gordon said...

Iain, re Caroline Flint:

I read the situation as: Flint had been asked to Cabinet once since October. In the reshuffle she was offered to visit cabinet every week but without a real cabinet position so she turned it down. Not sure if I'm right but it seems consistent with what's been said.

Just seen Sugar on Sky and he seems out of his depth with little political knowledge. He's been successful so he might pick it up quickly but he's struggling so far. He did say that he didn't like Brown's 50% tax band and that in a year there might not be a Government who can push it through.

JuliaM said...

According to the Beeb: "Lord Mandelson warns Labour MPs to "stop taking shots" at Gordon Brown..."

For once, I agree with him. Stop firing wildly, centre your target, take a breath, and squeeze the trigger, don't yank it.

Make your shot count, for all our sakes!

Oscar Miller said...

I seem to be in a small minority who thought Mandelson was dreadful. He came across as defensive, tetchy, evasive and mendacious. Marr was, it goes without saying, a shambolic pushover, but I just can't imagine that interview doing any favours for Mandy amongst the less politically obsessed public. The cabinet "united against him" was a classic. The awful reality of this country being run by the dysfunctional, unelected twosome, of Brown and Mandy gets more like a nightmare by the hour. I have a horrible vision of some Orton/Halliwell style explosion to come.

SHB said...

Marr let Mady walk all over him.

Anonymous said...

Alan Sugar described FE colleges as places "where dummkopfs come to learn where to make mistakes". I find it utter baffling that he is now championing government Apprenticeships and is Business and Enterprise tsar. He's a accident waiting to happen for the government. He didn't know what a 'whip' is on Sky this morning.

kasou said...

I refuse to watch Marr any longer, but what can we expect of the BBC real reporting ?, in depth investigation ?, balanced opinions ??

They are hoping for a 'sugar' coated invitation to government (and a quick thankyou lordship, with expenses) so we cannot xpect any of them to stand up for their country we only pay them, and like many 'government' employees they only think of themselves.

Welcome back Silver-Tongue, we thought we had lost you to the Ermine devils( you rember the ones you and Blair wanted out of politics..or as an elected house. Boy how things change when you can afford your own mortgage)

Anonymous said...

A Cabinet of tokens. Token wimmin, token Muslims, and a token corrupt unelected sodomite. What's not to like?

Ed the Shred said...

I got the impression that Andrew Marr was really pissed off and how Mandy walked all over him but, given his labour bias, could not show it, as the Chubby One would have done. I bet we will see Andrew's anger being reflected soon enough, in Jackie Ashley's writings next week. I would love to hear what Andrew and Jackie discuss over lunch today!

GM said...

Thoroughly embarrassing interview. Mandelson was in complete charge throughout, leaving Marr floundering. Would Paxman have got himself into this position?!

colin said...

I thought Mandelson was interviewing Marr. I'm sure he said "our viewers" at one point.

He still came across as an untrustworthy little sh*t so no help to brown in truth.

Charlie Falconer has called for a new leader on Boulton's show.

Magpie 64 said...

I think Mandy was referring to the new offer they made to CF i.e from hence forward you can attend every cabinet. Either way it clearlyw asn't enough for Ms Flint who I think should revert to modelling. As for Sir Alan based on the initial hopeless interview on Sky... you're fired !

Robert said...

The Andrew Marr show is the best argument for privatising the BBC. Why should licence payers have to suffer party political broadcasts on behalf of the Labour Party, the EU and Climate Changers every time they switch on.

Even Brillo gives the Tories a harder time than his mates in cabinet.

I notice the letters for the word verification are'sturb'. With your penchant for things Teutonic is this a comment on your commentators?

JBW said...

Surely it is no longer a case of will anyone challenge Brown, (as he is no longer the real PM), but who will have the guts to challenge Mandelson, the real power behind the throne.

Mark Reckons said...

Mandelson may have been technically good (apart from the Balls slip) but ordinary people think his is a slimy b***ard.

Alex Smith said...

I think Mandelson's "invited every week" meant from here on in, after the reshuffle, as a sop to ensure she didn't resign. Flint's "rarely invited" was referring to the period up to the reshuffle and before she resigned.

Anonymous said...

Mandy insisted in that interview that there would be a bill on constitutional reform this summer. Unless there is a general election in which they publish their proposals for such reform and are elected on it, just what right does such an unpopular government(or any other come to that)have to carry through constitutional change? Surely in a democracy they need the consent of the people for that?

I bet any proposals for change won't address the infamous West Lothian question either. It will simple be an attempt to bolster Labour's chances at a general election by tweaking voting and such. No wonder Labour got such a hammering in England!

Christian said...

Fantastic interview for one reason - it showed the great British public everything you every wanted to know about how bad british politics is ditto the BBC (John H aside).

Lord President whateverhistitle is, has been thrown out, er, sorry, left of his own volition (naturally) how many times? 2 maybe 3?

And yet here he is no 2 to the PM - the same person who he once famously asked for 20p to call a mate and Brown said 'here's 40p ring all of them...' basically running the show. Meritocracy I think not!

To be fair credit to him for being the consumate pro in turning a ? on its head. As someone said, either he's telling the truth about Flint or she is. It's a very B&W affair. So which is Lord President? Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn!

Didn't expect him to say anything different to the PM when all the journos asked if he really did not think about moving Darling and having said he was a candid honest man, turned round and said 'no never...'

As for Marr completely and utterly out of his depth and should stick to something else. Totally embarrassing and nothing else. Thought the end where he just trotted out a series of one word answers in that impatient 'I'm getting bored with this' manner was both hiliarious and outrageously rude showing the real side of the man.

I bet Paxman et al are itching to get their hands on him - will he have the balls (not Ed!) to go head to head with them? Probably is the answer as people like Mandy do live in la la land.

canvas said...

"It was an open invitation. Will anyone take it up?"

I doubt it. A sinking ship is a sinking ship. Any real contender will wait until Labour are out of power and try to rebuild... Who in the Labour Party has the political will to incite radical change?

It's ashame because it would be good to have a real choice at the next general election. At the moment there is no serious alternative except for DC and the Tories.

I don't think the general public are excited about the prospect of a conservative government - but anything is better than what we have now.

Christian said...

Nick Robinson (love him or not) probablhit the nail on the proverbial head when he said Labour needs to decide do we have a civil war now and get badly beaten in an election or limp along and string it out and still get beat albeit not so badly.

I'm not necessarily sure it's nailed on for the Tories when it does happen - a lot depends on whether they rely on the past 12 years and recent events to tip it for them or do what they should do and that is tell people what they're about. If they go for the first option then that could backfire.

But back to Mandy and Marr, if I were a BBC big wig I'd leave it a few hours and invite him on to Radio 4 tomorrow - even roll out the red carpet to get him there (he has such an ego he couldn't refuse) and let battle commence.

As for Sir Alan saying it's a politically neutral appointment - right!

John T said...

Marr got totally owned by Mandy I agree with these comments. Couldn't believe he was allowed to get away with it!

Fernando said...


Don’t you mean slither?

The problem for Mandelson is that people don’t listen to his words, which are quite persuasive. They just look at the overall impression he presents on TV, which is slimey, slightly sinister and basically untrustworthy. He’s not blessed with a particularly masculine voice and he comes across as someone wanting to sell you a dodgy insurance policy.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately slimeball Mandy ran rings round Andrew Marr and he could hardly get a word in edgeways, don't think it would have been quite like that if it had been Jeremy Paxmand asking the questions!

You have to hand it to Mandy, he is a formidable interviewee

Anonymous said...

If Gordon Brown resigns, the caretaker PM will be automatically be the Deputy PM. Thanks to Mandelson's recent elevation to that position, this means he would automatically become the next Prime Minister until the long process of choosing another has been completed.

This is how Brown and Mandelson have stitched up the nation, ensuring that Labour MPs will never be able support such a travesty and therefore cannot remove Brown who is now superglued into Number 10.

Brown only has to threaten to resign, to silence his troops! They wouldn't even dare to admit what's been done to us all. That's Brown's trump card.

We've all been stitched up, not just the Labour Party. Are the Labour Party proud of what they've done to our democracy?

canvas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
canvas said...

I just read this in the paper....

If it's true then what's the point of Labour finding a new leader now? Gordon Brown might as well just call a general election now and then fall on his sword gracefully.

"Rule 4B.2e (i) Procedure in a vacancy states: "When ... the party leader is prime minister and ... becomes permanently unavailable the cabinet shall, in consultation with the NEC, appoint one of its members to serve as party leader until a ballot under these rules can be carried out." This clearly assumes the period required for a new leader to be elected would be longer than 23 days.

Not surprisingly, for even when there is no vacancy (ie when the leader is prime minister) "nominations [for the office of Leader] shall be sought each year prior to the annual session of party conference " ( Rule 4B.2b(ii)), not only from MPs but also from "affiliated organisations, constituency Labour parties and members of the European parliament. This requirement has not been complied with since New Labour took over the party. Previously, nomination papers for leader and deputy leader were routinely sent together with others for all elective positions. This did not mean a leadership election had to be held every year, but ensured all members were given the opportunity to express an opinion on whether one was desirable.

In the present situation, if Gordon Brown stands down, the constitutional requirement to consult the membership can no longer be ignored. And if there were at least two validly nominated candidates, Labour's electoral college would have to be convened. The consultation would take at least two months."

Anonymous said...


Failing a tragic accident requiring a laryngeal transplant, Mandelson needs a voice coach to make him sound a lot like James Earl Jones to truly make this next phase of his metamorphosis completely successful.

Oscar Miller said...

Anonymous at 12.41

Mandy is not officially the deputy PM - Hattie would not have stood for it, as she was denied this title. But she is the deputy leader of the Labour party and in the event of Brown's 'incapacity' I believe Hattie would stand in, not Mandelson.

Rex said...

It just convinced me what an odious little shit Mandleson is and begs the question who runs this country?

IF I was a labour supporter then this would have been the nail in the coffin.

For Brown to rely on this smug creature to do his talking says it all really!

denverthen said...

I just find the constant barrage of lies from these people so depressing. Why are these people permitted to get away with it?

If a person lies in this way in any other walk of life, that person quickly loses first the repect of his colleagues, then his reputation and not so long afterwards, his job. Why should we not expect from these people the same standards of honesty and integrity we have to demonstrate every day in our public lives?

I suppose one thing the lying makes crystal clear and that's the reason why so many of our lords and masters found it so easy to fiddle their exes and the worst cases were Labour cases, frankly.

Mandelson, though. Dear God! Does no one remember why he was forced to resign from office - twice? The first time: a secret, extremely dubious mortgage loan about which he lied. The second time: a dodgy passport application for a mate fast tracked by his department - about which he lied.

Lying for him is second nature. He does it with the dead-eyed, waxen-faced certainty of the studied professional.

Remove him and the reputation of parliament would leap ten-fold in one fell swoop. Remove this government of habitual liars and that reputation will be well on the way to being restored.

Anonymous said...

Well, if it's an open invitation for someone to stand against Brown, then I can report that the Tories have nothing whatsoever to fear from Mr Modest, alan johnson.

I saw his interview on the politics show - and I was struck by how little gravitas he had. He wriggled around, denying everything.

Cameron would tear him to pieces at PMQs, and the country would see thorugh him for what he is - another nannying statist.

Bring it on.

Dot Neck said...

Just watched it on i Player.

Mandelson may be (OK, is) the personification of political evil but you have to admit he is in a completely different league to almost any other politician. He ran rings round Marr without breaking sweat once.

He demonstrates just how poor Brown is.

Paul Halsall said...

I don't like Peter Mandelson's politics (far too business loving for me), but he is currently the only British politician as smooth and assured as some like Bill or Hillary Clinton.

I suppose it's also wort noting, re the Brown sexism charges, that he now has three openly gay men in his Cabinet. That's quite something for a man who always seemed uncomfortable around gay issues.

ChrisD said...

Iain, I maybe wrong, but I thought that Mandelson revealed a little bit more in that interview. It appears that Flint was *offered* the chance to stay as European Minister, but with a weekly slot at the Cabinet table this time?
So, that doesn't contradict what Flint said had happened before.

But more interestingly Mandelson boasted about knowing the exact terms of the offer to Flint, because he phoned her and made the offer on Brown's behalf. That backs up the rumours that Mandelson was trying to persuade some Blairites not to jump ship during the Cabinet reshuffle.

But to boast about it in that way on Marr today, Yuck. Did himself no favours, and certainly made Brown look even weaker.

Dimoto said...

" GM said...
Thoroughly embarrassing interview. Mandelson was in complete charge throughout, leaving Marr floundering. Would Paxman have got himself into this position?!"

I'm surprised anyone still sees Paxman as a good interviewer. He is lazy, poorly prepared and mostly uninterested. His standard tricks - mostly doing his horse faced Frankie Howerd impression as he says REALLY!? for the nth time, is just boring !

Lot of OTT optimism on here.
I could easily see a scenario, where Johnson is elected after loads of good publicity during a protracted leadership contest, then a load of X-factor type media hysteria about the "marvellous achievements" of this "winner" from a humble background. (read the ridiculous hagiography by Andy McSmith in the Indy for example).
Then a quick election, and Johnson agreeing to make Cable Chancellor in a hung parliament.

Let's remember, we want the Brownster to stick around for a little while longer yet.

Anonymous said...

"Then a quick election, and Johnson agreeing to make Cable Chancellor in a hung parliament."

Oh come on. This is getting sillier and sillier.

IanC said...

The solution that struck me at the end of Andrew Marr's interview, when he rescued Lord Mandelson from his Freudian slip in which he referred to a Cabinet 'united against Gordon Brown', is that Mandelson himself would make the ideal caretaker Prime Minister if he could persuade Brown to resign now for the sake of his health, that of the Labour party and that of the country. An 'immediate' election could then be held in the Autumn, allowing the Labour Party time to elect a new leader. In the meantime the Govt could push through various reforms, e.g. to MPs' expenses, that would clear the way for a new regime that might persuade disgusted voters to turn out at the polls.

Treble exes all round said...

You're wrong about Flint.

What she's saying is that in the past she's only been invited to cabinet occasionally.

What Mandelson and Brown said is that she was offered a weekly attendance at cabinet alongside the Europe job.

This she declined.

The emails merely show that Mandelson was making suggestions about how Brown's media strategy ought to be handled. Nothing hostile about it.

I was surprised that the emails showed Mandelson being helpful in fact, given what we're supposed to believe about their relationship at that time.

JMB said...

Brown will only be brought down when Mandelson believes that it will serve Mandelson's own interests to have someone else as Prime Minister.

Paul Halsall said...

People, be clear. Mandelson could not be a caretaker PM outside the House of Commons.

When Macmillan resigned, Alec Douglas-Home had to renounce his peerage as Earl of Home, and fight a by-election for a safe Tory seat.

These kind of forced by-elections used to be quite common (a number of early Labour leaders kept loosing their seats and having to get a resignation to create a by-election).

The problem is, there may be no constituency in the UK where Mandelson could win in such circumstances.

If there were a temporary PM it would have to be Harriet Harman.

jon dee said...

Marr can afford to be incompetent and a Labour apologist.

We are paying him handsomely.

Anonymous said...

i think andrew marr is a pretty cool guy. eh smooches labour's sphincter and doesnt afraid of anything.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Bring back Sophie Raworth.

She gave Lord Fondlebum of Boy a harder interview that the faggot Marr ever could.

ranger1640 said...

Mandelson, is the personification of why the public are switched off the politicos. His slimy half truths and outrageous lies are why this country has no respect for authority figures.

I despair for Browns so called reforms of parliament when a mistier of state goes onto TV and spins and lies his way through a 20 minute interview.

If this is how Labour show respect to the public I despair for this country. Again Labour are saying fuck the public we will spin and lie through our teeth and fuck the public.

As for Marr he is so light weight that he would struggle to interview preschool kids, never mind a scheming lying toad like Mandelson.

Anonymous said...

Though I do not like him, I have never in 35 years of watching politics seen a more polished media performance than Mandy with Andrew Marr today. It was brilliant in its deflection. Clearly Many is the most powerfull man in Britain - he is Gordon's puppeteer

Erskine May said...

Anonymous 12.41, Oscar Miller and Paul Halsall:

All wrong, I'm afraid. No one holds the title of Deputy Prime Minister and even if they did it would not mean they would become temporary Prime Minister in the event of Gordon Brown stepping down. 'Deputy Prime Minister' is not a post recognised in the constitution, although the PM occasionally confers it on a Cabinet colleague, and anyone holding the title is the same as any other member of the Cabinet.

There is no constitutional convention governing what happens nowadays if a PM suddenly resigns or dies, given that all main parties have provision for the leader to be elected by the party membership. The likelihood is that Brown would remain PM (as Blair did) until the party elects a new leader. If he stepped down immediately, Labour Party rules provide that the Cabinet in conjunction with the NEC would nominate a temporary replacement, though such an untested process is fraught with difficulties - political as well as constitutional.

Paul Halsall: Peter Mandelson could not return to the Commons. There is no provision for life peers to disclaim their peerages. However, in law, he could be PM (temporary or,otherwise) in the House of Lords; he is precluded from becoming such only by convention.

Paul Halsall said...

@Erskine May,

I agree with you, and disagree with you at the same time.

I admit I did not know a Life Peer could not renounce the peerage.

It's true a PM could be a peer, but the last was Lord Salisbury, and I think Alec-Douglas Home's precedent sets the convention.

Of course our constitution is a matter of "convention".

But that is true of ALL constitutions, written or not. For example, nowhere in American Constitutional documents is there any mention of parties, of state regulation of parties, of primaries, party conventions, etc. Yet these are all now fundamental as to how the US runs.

All written constitutions are mre pieces of paper: real constitutions, to misquote Oliver Wendell Holmes, live in the hearts of men.

Anonymous said...

Ive always thought Mandelson is uncomfortable to watch being interviewed, he is now back to his former full self - everything he said to andrew marr was trying to control the interviewer; he's a controlling ......d. Andrew did very well - i'd have hit M for being so arrogant; he's a loser.

Chalcedon said...

Therefore didn't McBroon lie in his interview when he discussed Darling? It's too much like Blackadder for words really.

Erskine May said...

Paul Halsall: The convention that the PM must sit in the Commons derives from the experience of 1922 when the King sent for Baldwin rather than Curzon, even though the reason for his action was not that the PM should be drawn from the elected House but because Labour had just become the official Opposition and had no representation in the Upper House: he felt it inappropriate to have the PM in a House where he could not face the Opposition. 1963 did not set the precedent: the convention was already set, which is why Lord Home would not have become PM without the passage of the Peerages Act 1963. Its enactment meant that both he and Hailsham could be contenders for the leadership.

Paul Halsall said...

@Erskine May

Not so.

Otherwise how could Lord Halifax have been considered in 1940. There was no ability to renounce a peerage then.

Dave said...

Peter Mandelson (just call me PM) walked all over Marr. I particular like the last part with PM telling Marr to give him the next question. Who was in charge? To be fair has anyone ever seen Marr giving a hard time to a Labour interviewee?

Paul Halsall said...

PS: I'm not saying 1922 meant nothing.

Either way, it adds to my claim that to distinguish between "constitution" and "convention" is meaningless.

I suppose that means it would be possible for a current evolution to develop in which Mandelson were PM.

But I seriously doubt that will happen.

Erskine May said...

Paul Halsall: The fact that he was a peer was the reason that Halifax did not become PM in 1940. Halifax made it clear to Chamberlain,in a bilateral meeting, that, as a peer, he could not become PM, and then reiterated it at a (somewhat more famous) quadripartite meeting with Chamberlain, Churchill and Margesson.

Paul Halsall said...

@erskine may

Britain in 1940 is most decidely not my era (heroic as it was for our country), but I believe that in 1940 there was a disjunction. Halifax COULD HAVE become PM according to almost all historians.

Even if the fact he could not sit in the House of Commons was decisive, the very fact that he was still considered by all concerned as a possible PM, shows there was no consensus at that time.

It may have been, although I would need to check, that Labour refused to accept a PM in the Lords.

At all events, it is interesting to note that it was Churchill's intellect, and stance as a newspaper columnist, that made him an option.

Let us all pray this does not cause anyone to think of Simon Heffer in the present case.

Erskine May said...

Paul Halsall: Halifax was considered for PM in 1940, but the point is he did not become PM. That's the important point. Legally, he could have become PM and given that Britain was at war there were exceptional reasons why the convention might be set aside. But Halifax resisted. Had he been in the Commons, then British history may have taken a very different path.

Ricardo's Ghost said...

Lots of people complaining about Andrew Marr I see. They seem to forget that this Sunday morning slot has never been about giving politicians of any hue a particularly hard time. David Frost was notoriously soft, and the whole thing is an exercise is allowing them to fully state their position as they see it. This is the antidote to soundbite politics. There are plenty of other political programmes that do the harder edged stuff (Newsnight for example). The result is that Andrew Marr gets people like the Chinese Ambassador and the First Secretary of State, whilst Newsnight is doing well if can persuade a Parliamentary Under-Secretary to attend.

The Marr/Frost formula also can yield some surprises - it was Frost who had the most expensive interview in history when Blair accidentally promised to match European levels of health spending.

Anonymous said...

Peter M has possibly shown there is a new way to deal with the constant interruptions that most interviewer
s use as their technique nowerdays.
I bet ALL politicians wll be watching this interview over and over again.
I have to say I am personally sick to death of the likes of Paxman making it impossible to actually listen to a sentence being finished because he's moved onto another subject.
It does nothing to help inform the public and puts you off the whole thing.
Jonathon Ross is exactly the same!