Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (18/07/10)

A writer, not a quitter

Share
Related Topics

Political hack Philip Webster gave Peter Mandelson's book a glowing review in yesterday's
Times (well, they did serialise it), saying it "reshapes our perception" of the past 13 years.
The Third Man also, er, rather reshapes history by omitting to mention several key people. There's no sign of Gaddafi's son, whom Mandy met in Corfu and with whom he attended a shooting party at Waddesdon (and who presumably knows a bit about oil and Megrahi's release); no mention of his friend Lord Browne, former boss of BP (ditto); no mention of Peter Ashby, his former lover who turned straight, with whom he spent many happy days at his Herefordshire cottage; no mention of Harry Blackwood, the editor of the
Hartlepool Mail, whose removal he is alleged to have engineered. There's even no mention of Patrick Wintour, Mandelson's go-to
Guardian reporter.

There was also a curious omission in yesterday's interview with Mandy by Matthew Norman in the Telegraph. The journo – whose relationship with Mandy has had its bilious moments – told the story of the time Mandelson dropped in at Norman's home and availed himself of a substantial dinner. At the end of the meal, Mandelson spotted some colourful magnets on the fridge and asked. "Are there children in the house?" Norman, quick as a flash, replied: "You're not still hungry, are you?"

Mandy's book launch at the Royal Festival Hall was also noticeable for absent friends – Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – but he managed to dominate parties elsewhere across town that night. In the more cosseted surroundings of Mark's Club, where Bret Easton Ellis was launching a novel, style guru Peter York and art consultant Bettina Von Hase recalled Mandelson as a retiring young junior when he worked for them at SRU management consultancy in the early 1990s. "Losing the moustache was the best thing that happened to Peter," said York, "you can trace his ascent from the minute he shaved it off".

Hampstead MP Glenda Jackson has swung into action after scraping a 42-seat majority. After being dubbed London's "laziest MP", the Oscar-winning former actress has rekindled her enthusiasm for politics, leaping up in debates, attending committees, signing Early Day Motions and even getting izzy-wizzy by joining Facebook to reach voters. Some say the 74-year-old has found being in opposition invigorating, joking that she has done more in the past eight weeks than in the last year of Labour's government. Whatever next? Perhaps she'll even move into her constituency.

Michael Portillo has been staring out of a lot of windows lately, exploring Britain's rail journeys for the BBC. So he knows a good shine when he sees one, and has taken to evangelising about his window cleaner back home. Residents of Chelsea have received hand-signed letters from the former Tory MP recommending the services of one David Doyle. "When someone works inside and outside the house, I must have complete trust in that person," it reads, "I do place my trust in Mr Doyle." In case you don't believe him the letter provides Portillo's home address, email and even his mobile phone number. He's clearly forgotten what it's like to have constituents.

Shacking up with the Tories still rankles among plenty of Lib Dem MPs, particularly those who lost their seats to a Conservative. Dr Evan Harris cut a decidedly glum figure at the party held by English PEN, the charity that fights for persecuted writers, last week. "I was surprised to lose," the former member for Oxford West and Abingdon told me, "I didn't think I was particularly at risk." He partly blames animal rights activists, who distributed 45,000 leaflets attacking his defence of Oxford University's animal research labs, and says he had sufficient grounds to sue for malicious falsehood, but as a campaigner for free speech decided against it. Constituents may be glad to hear he plans to win the seat back next time.

A final word on Mandy. Alastair Campbell has accused him of misremembering the days immediately after this year's election, and a former home office minister yesterday queried his account of another episode. Well we were warned: This is what Mandy told an interviewer last year: "I'm not a disciplined diary writer or note taker."

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Rohingya migrants in a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea last week  

Burma will regret shutting its eyes to the fate of the Rohingya boat people

Peter Popham
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor