"If I can do it, we can do it," declared Peter Mandelson to the Labour Party Conference.
His speech today was a barnstorming attempt to breathe life into a conference which up until then had looked moribund.
He told delegates that if he could return from oblivion, so could the party. Labour was in the fight of its life. And it was exactly what we needed to hear.
If the architect of our successful 1997 victory still thinks we can win, then who are we to argue?
Although Mandelson announced an extension of the car scrappage scheme, there was little in the way of new policy announcements in his speech.
But this didn’t matter. Mandelson directed all his fire at the Tories.
Frequently referring to the Shadow Chancellor as ‘Boy George’ he said that Osborne had sailed too close to the wind, too often. A neat reminder to all of us of the last time the two men met on a yacht in Corfu.
He accused Cameron of being shallow and mocked the Shadow Secretary of State, Ken Clarke for his inability to get to grips with modern technology. No mobile phone. No Blackberry. A Business Secretary who can’t function in the modern world. Ken Clarke –the old duffer. A highly effective form of attack.
The speech was littered with criticism of the Tories. If only more Labour politicians could do it.
It was theatrical, camp and a little self indulgent. But if anyone can get away with this, it is Peter Mandelson. And it worked.
It gave us some fire in our bellies, made us laugh at ourselves and reminded us that the real enemies are Cameron and his cronies.
I remember the second time Mandelson resigned from Government and the Mirror newspaper or the Sun (one of them) carried a picture of him and Blair sat on the frontbenches looking thoroughly miserable. The headline was “He could have been one of Labour’s Heroes”.
I hope that Peter Mandelson has put headlines like that to rest now. Over the last twelve months, he has proven his ability and his judgement.
His speech today showed that he has true star quality. God knows Labour needs some of that magic and sparkle.
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