Saturday, 31 July 2010

Mandelson's book so far

Picture: Mandelson slimed by Alien. He's looking at the dead bodies of Alien and Predator on the ground.

I'm way behind on my list of things to read and I know everyone ever has already aired their thoughts on this book, so of course there is no reason for me to follow suit. But I'm not a reasonable man. I'm so unreasonable in fact that I haven't even finished the book yet, and I'm going to do it anyway. Just watch me.

The Third Man is Mandelson's tribute to himself. It opens with "I am the alpha and the omega, the first the last, the beginning and the end". Oh no that's the Book of Revelation, not The Third Man. The Third Man actually opens with this: "I embody New Labour". So, easy mistake to make.

The history of New Labour is interesting, but told from Mandy's point of view it can be a bit excrutiating. Mandy Pandy's account of the party's rise goes a little like this: "I came up with the idea to modernise the party because I was the only one that noticed we were losing elections again and again. I used my position to open the eyes of the ignorant who had at first been unaware that our popularity had been on the slide since the 1970s. They soon came round to my way of thinking when they noticed how much wiser I was than them. I discovered Gordon and Tony in a little corner in the House and was the only reason they were able to work together. I designated them as the ones to carry out my work here on earth after my ascension into heaven."

Basically, Mandelson views himself as the man at the top of the pile. He is the fella with the glint in his eyes and the fingers in the pies. He even came up with 'tough on crime, tough on the cause of crime' about a decade before Blair did, don't you know?

But not only was he the only man that could make a Blair-Brown partnership workable, he could also predict the future. Here are some excerpts from his diary, which was definitely written in the early 80s:

  • On Neil Kinnock: "The likelihood is that he will be the leader that restored and rebuilt the Labour Party but who could not clinch victory".

  • On his role: "My role is revolving around the strong future leaders - Gordon Brown and Tony Blair".

As you can see the Mandible Claw is Nostradamus too. Shame he couldn't predict John Smith's heart attack (RIP). That probably would have saved him a lot of trouble later on when he single-handedly had to manage the fractious Brown-Blair nucleus of New Labour and heroically pull it from the jaws of death in the Alien vs Predator vs Mandelson chapter.

In conclusion, from what I know about New Labour, Mandelson was pretty important, but not as much as this sordid jizz-cloth makes out. This book may be a little bit too self-serving for me. From what I've read before, others were involved in the creation of New Labour too. Gouldy, Beckett etc etc. Well not according to this, you see they were only there because He-Mandelson allowed them to be.

He refers to Blair, Brown and himself as the 'three musketeers' on multiple occasions. Too many occasions actually. Well if that's true mate then you're D'Artagnan!!!!!!!!!! ZING!!!!!!!!!!??!!!!!????!!!!!

On the other hand this book is very readable. And I'm only on about page 4 out of 600 or something so will update you when I've read a little bit more. Right now though, I just don't like his tone.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Dear Nick Robinson,

I find it incredulous that you felt the need to splice tonight's 'Five Days that Changed Britain' with such a contrived selection of contemporary pop music. Were you hoping to sugar the bitter pill of politics and extend your reach to the kids of today, or perhaps you just wanted to show off your hip iPod playlist? No doubt you have the Antarctic Monkeys on there too.

Point is, you seriously thought Bloc Party, The XX and Arcade Fire could create some sort of moodscape for the events surrounding the coalition formation. Why? Firstly, you're displaying a disregard for serious journalism, and secondly, you clearly have no appreciation of the music used. I counted no more than 7 songs taken from Bloc Party's Silent Alarm alone. Actually, 'songs' is inaccurate, you managed to just stick the first 20 seconds of each one on. They're not all the same you know. They don't all somehow interchangeably fit every single scenario imaginable ever, like Harry Potter's Room of Requirement or something. Yes, the 2005 masterpiece is a tense affair, but you can't expect people to hear the first few bars of 'Helicopter' and go "oh yeah, this was a really trying time in coalition negotiations". No more can you expect them to think that when they hear a clip from 'Like Eating Glass', 'Positive Tension', 'This Modern Love', 'The Pioneers', 'She's Hearing Voices' or 'So Here We Are'. Yes I am protective of this album, but Nick mate, SORT IT OUT.

Which brings me onto my next point. Can Bloc Party stop relying on the royalties from the use of Silent Alarm in TV drama adverts and write a good album again please. That's not too much to ask, is it Nick?

Back to the show. Nick, you did not really give us much. It was interesting to see what you thought of things, but I'm pretty sure we knew it all before, from your coverage of the election that you did actually do literally non stop for a month around May if you remember. Surely you had something new to tell us? Actually, there were some more revealing sections. Like when Ed Balls said that Nick Clegg behaved like an arrogant kid. Oh yeah and when Ed Balls said that Nick Clegg was trying to embarrass Brown. Oh and there was that time when somebody said that Nick Clegg demanded spending cuts in any Lib-Lab pact so was a back-bench back-stabber. Who said that again? Oh I remember... Ed Balls. Because he was shit stirring again. You've got to learn to see through this Nick. And you've also got to unfairly use your position as chief political correspondent for the BBC to stop him becoming Labour leader.

That said, I don't mind most of the stuff you do. Your output is generally informative and good for those wishing to look like they know what's going on, so thanks for that. And also keep up the good work of the BBC politics department, your news coverage is generally top for clarity and indeed reliability.

Yours written in blood, and eagerly awaiting reply,

Mike McManus

Picture: Nick Robinson getting seriously done over by Ed Balls. This happened during the making of Five Days that Changed Britain I think.