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This rock-star politician wants a new gig

Email sent: Sep 17, 2021 9:07am
Plus: Justice for the Metric Martyrs?
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Friday September 17 2021

The Telegraph
Chopper's Politics

In association with

Christopher Hope

By Christopher 'Chopper' Hope,


I first met Peter Mandelson when he was at the height of his powers in 1998 at an event in the British Museum. I was a lowly reporter at Construction News.

Summoning up my courage, I walked up to him and said: "Hello Mr Mandelson. Can I have a word?"

Mandelson - the main power broker in the Labour government - looked at me and said: "Who are you?" I was stuck for words, mumbled something about working for Construction News, and shrank away.

The dynamic was somewhat different when I met Lord Mandelson near his central London offices on Thursday this week to interview him for Chopper's Politics podcast.

For a start he actually wanted to speak to me. Our 20-minute chat was fascinating.

He really is a reminder of a sort of rock-star politician who just sucks in the attention of anyone in the room.

The modern equivalents are all Tories: Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is not yet in that list. Mandelson made the point in our interview that Sir Keir's problem is that he is strong on character and weak on personality (Johnson, he said, was the other way around).

Mandelson clearly wants to be back in the action ("I'd love to go back to the government. There's not a day that passes without my missing being in government") and he has ideas: for a start he thinks Starmer should slash the size of the shadow Cabinet, and focus on a key idea of how to rebuild the economy.

Everything else can flow from that.

The SNP in Scotland was "there for the taking" and he was adamant that former leader Jeremy Corbyn should not have the whip restored in Parliament.

And he had an apology of sorts over the Brexit wars, wondering whether he might have been better to have fought for a softer Brexit, not a second referendum to reverse the result of the 2016 referendum altogether.

It is hard to argue with his contention that Labour has wasted the past decade talking to itself.

That has got to change. And Peter Mandelson has some of the answers.




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Chopper's Westminster Whispers

Spads need a stiff drink

Ministerial special advisers - many of whom will be pondering an uncertain future after this week's reshuffle - were treated to a party by radio station LBC last night.

The 'spads' mingled with Nick Ferrari, Iain Dale, Nimco Ali and our own Camilla Tominey on Global Radio's roof terrace.

Breakfast host legend Ferrari gave a well-received speech referencing Nicki Minaj and swollen testicles.


Planning battle lines drawn

Former Policy Exchange boss Neil O'Brien has joined Michael Gove at the Ministry of Housing, making clear that Boris Johnson is about to go into battle again with the party's grassroots on planning.

As the Telegraph reporter who led the Hands Off Our Land campaign against the reforms - which drove a JCB digger through planning protections - I was interested to see Nick Boles, a planning minister over a decade ago- admit that he may have overdone it.

Boles told Jack Blanchard's excellent Westminster Insider podcast: "Ultimately, have we fundamentally altered the affordability of housing to people buying their first home? No — we completely failed. It’s taken me a long time to accept that my analysis was wrong, and therefore my prescription was wrong.”


Sir Lindsay Hoyle needs his own wings

Nancy Pelosi - America's version of our own Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle - arrives in Chorley, Lancashire, today for the G7 Speakers conference, along with the speakers from Germany, Italy and France.

While the other speakers travel in style (Pelosi, the US House of Representatives speaker, and some others actually have their own planes), Hoyle has to make do with British Rail to get around the UK.

But the lad from Chorley would not want it any other way.


Is justice on the way for the Metric Martyrs?

Huge excitement in Brexitland yesterday when the Government confirmed that it would be "reviewing the EU ban on markings and sales in imperial units and legislating in due course, none of which was possible within the EU".

Older readers will remember how Steve Thoburn, Colin Hunt and Julian Harman, all greengrocers, and John Dove, a fishmonger, were convicted in 2001 for selling produce in imperial measurements in defiance of European Union laws.

Greengrocer Janet Devers, the fifth "martyr", was convicted in 2008.

They were criminalised for selling fruit and veg in measurements their customers understood. Pardons are well overdue.

I made a film with Steven Edginton about their plight for the Telegraph here.


A cunning plan - if it even existed

Was the timing of the reshuffle a cynical ploy to bury the Universal Credit vote on Wednesday afternoon?

The data team at PR firm Trafalgar Strategy analysed nearly 100,000 tweets that day and found many users complaining it was a ruse to distract from the vote, in part, driven by LBC’s James O’Brien and his 800k audience.

But No 10's plan - if it were one - worked, with news of Raab and Williamson’s demise delighting the Twitterati, while the promotion of Nadine Dorries to Culture Secretary appalled the Twitter mob.

Trafalgar’s Giles Kenningham says: "While Twitter doesn't give you a complete picture of public sentiment it does give a window into what people do and don't remember about our mainstream politicians."


5 must-reads for the weekend


Get in touch
Christoper 'Chopper' Hope @ChristopherHope


Brexit watch

By Maighna Nanu

Lord Frost has vowed that Britain will ditch all of Brussels' rules and regulations that do not suit the UK after Brexit Credit: PA images

The Crown Stamp will return to British pint glasses, the Government announced yesterday, signalling yet another victory over EU red tape.

In 2007 the much-beloved Crown Stamp on beer glasses was replaced with the EU's CE mark which means "European Conformity", with Britain forced to follow suit due to membership of the bloc.

Tom Stainer, the chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “We opposed its removal 14 years ago, and look forward to seeing the return of the traditional British pint mark on glasses."

It comes as Lord Frost vowed that Britain would ditch all of Brussels' regulations that did not suit the UK after Brexit.

Read the full story from our Europe Editor, James Crisp, here.




Today's cartoon


Quote of the day


"You know - it's all guacamole off my back - I don't mind it at all."

Peter Mandelson


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