Diary: Mandelson 'backs the wrong horse' – this time in China

 

It is a shame that the Leveson Inquiry could not have stretched its terms of reference yesterday to take in power politics in China, for that is a subject on which their star witness, Peter Mandelson, might have had some interesting insights.

Keeping up a lifetime's habit of courting friendships with the powerful, Lord Mandelson went to a lot of trouble to build a working relationship with a rising star of the Chinese leadership, Bo Xilai – which came to nothing when Bo's wife was accused of organising the murder of a British businessman, Neil Haywood, and he was removed from his place on the Politburo.

Someone in a position to know tells me that as news of Bo's downfall came through, Lord Mandelson's phone rang, and a gloating voice with a Chinese accent told him: "You backed the wrong horse."

Peerless talent for historic omission

A curiosity of our system, as I have mentioned before, is that when someone is made a life peer, it really is for life. They can bring disgrace on their office, and go to prison, and still hold on to their status as peers of the realm. John Taylor, aka Lord Taylor of Warwick, was sentenced to a year in prison in May last year for a £12,000 expenses fiddle.

Since his release, after three months, he has been redesigning his website, the masthead of which is adorned by a photograph of Lord Taylor, resplendent in his ermine robes of office. There is a section called "Taylor's Tips", in which he advises visitors to the site to start the day with a drink of warm, previously boiled water, and there is a biography which seems to end in 2007.

In the section headed "About Me" he lists "my worst experience" as "going ocean fishing in the Atlantic after a full breakfast". Could "full breakfast" be code for porridge? If so, it is the only mention anywhere on the website of his brush with the law.

Greece's wealth of political cranks

We don't know exactly whom Ken Clarke had in mind on Sunday when he appealed to Greek voters not to put their trust in "cranky extremists", but we can safely assume that it includes the Golden Dawn Party, which holds 21 seats in the Greek parliament, and whose symbol bears a disturbing resemblance to a swastika.

One of its leaders, a vet named Ioannis Vouldis, explained to the French news magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur: "We don't dispute Hitler was a war criminal. But did he really kill as many as people say? And what about Nagasaki – a genocide? Our reflection on these matters, clearly, annoys the Americans and Jewish bankers who rule the world..." The influence of these cranks could spread as the Greek crisis worsens.

A tax on the rich's sexual opportunity

The Taxpayers' Alliance were proudly distributing at the weekend an immense tome, 417 pages arguing the case for substantial tax cuts. All of us should have read it to the end, but not many did, so respect to the Political Scrapbook for unearthing a gem on page 92. The author Matt Ridley delves into anthropology and human psychology to explain why it is that we want the rich to pay tax.

It is because "the man with the most money still gets more sexual opportunities than the man with the least money... it's at least partly plain old sexual jealousy at root."

This inspired dozens of Twitter gags about the chat-up lines that these lotharios from the TPA might use. Sample: "Assets aren't the only thing I shall be stripping tonight."

Scots keep a tight grip on power

I knew times are austere, but just how austere was brought home to our northern correspondent, Jonathan Brown, when he arrived at Edinburgh Sheriff's Court to cover a trial, only to have the power cable from his laptop confiscated. He was told this was an edict of the Scottish Court Service, who have had a problem with visitors "stealing electricity".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'