Village People: Stuck in the middle

The paperback version of Peter Mandelson's memoirs is out on Monday. Most of the talk in the Village will be about the old spinmeister putting his stiletto into Ed Miliband.

Equally interesting though will be his observations on the older Miliband. David, he wrote – in an extract posted online – "ended up in something of a no man's land" after scorning Lord Mandelson's advice to form an alliance with Ed Balls.

His comments illustrate the Blairite dilemma. The strategy, at least until 2003, was to appear decisive while doing as little as possible to cross anyone. Blair could pull that off because he was a skillful actor. For someone like David Miliband, a thinker not a thespian, to reprise the performance, is near impossible.

Keep calm and carry on

When somebody writes something spiteful and untrue about you, it is as well to think coolly before striking back. Anybody can see why Mike Hancock, Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South, was angry about a leaflet describing him as a paedophile.

How many people believed or even saw the original accusation? But now that Hancock has successfully sued his defamer, many have read that he has repeatedly cheated on his wife, and that in the 1980s he enjoyed a "kiss and a cuddle" with a 17-year-old female intern in his office.

Small change writ large

One of the most revealing pieces of research on the impact of introducing AV was that by John Curtice, carried in this paper this week. His findings suggest that AV would give us a few more Lib Dem MPs and make close elections a bit closer, but generally make precious little difference either way.

This has not deterred warriors from the two camps from fighting like ferrets. No2AV produced an emotive ad implying babies will be denied hospital treatment because of the cost of switching to AV. Yes to Fairer Votes complained to the Advertising Standards Authority.

It brings to mind Sigmund Freud's observation about the narcissism of small differences.

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