Simon Carr: Cometh the hour, cometh the Mandy

Sketch: It was the best speech they'd heard since Tony Blair stopped making them

Share
Related Topics

Gordon has told us they can win, Alistair's told us they can win, people from the floor told us they can win and no one has for a minute believed them.

Not for one fraction of a second has anyone taken it seriously. They are so cowed they even let the tiny Liberal Sarah Teather berate them at The Independent fringe meeting for bottling it, for betraying their ideals, for belonging to such a useless, discredited, unelectable party. They just chuckled ruefully.

But then Peter Mandelson took to the conference stage. He looked at them. He spoke. And 20 minutes later, they felt they could think about believing they could do that remarkable thing. It's what a speech can do. It came from the heart, you see, or from whatever miracle of British engineering he has in there.

Mind you, when he started with that long, cartoonish face the first thought was – "Hasn't 3D technology improved!" But he was bold, he was big, he was bravura, it was the best speech they'd heard since Tony Blair stopped making them.

He went from little voice to big voice. Sometimes there was growling. He gave us his Kate Bush, he gave his us Shirley Bassey. He frowned, he smiled. Now fast, now slow. He stopped for daring pauses. It was fabulous. It was a masterclass. He'd copied most of it from Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons episode where he ran for Governor – and none the worse for that.

One quibble: the thumbs-up. The matey thumbs-up needs to extend the thumb fully and it has to lean back pointing slightly towards the shoulder. Peter's thumbs-up pushed the ball of his thumb just above the crease of his index finger and it pointed forward. In Italian it means "You have a tiny penis." That's not what Conference wants to hear. Has the Labour Party "learned to love Peter"? He ravished them, certainly. "If I can come back, (cautious laughter), WE CAN COME BACK!"

It's not humility, strictly, and more than self-deprecation, he presented us with a recognition of the facts. Surprise is the essence of great oratory.

"Deep down in my guts" (don't think about that) "I knew who was going to win the last five elections. Even the one in 1992." And then he turned the bellows on. This next election wasn't lost. It was winnable. It could be done.

And I dare say – such is the Mandelson effect – that George Osborne stopped flogging his manservant for a moment and put his crop to his lips and thought, "Hang on, is it possible?"

When he sat down, poor old Gordon (who looked pretty sick during parts of the triumph) stood up to announce the next speaker, and the hall was full of people leaving.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

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

Digital Fundraising Analyst/Web Analyst - West Sussex - Permanent - £30k DOE

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Application Support Engineer – 6 month FTC – West Sussex - £26k-£28k pro rata

£26000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Head of IT Change – West Sussex – Up to £60k DOE – Permanent

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Services Team Leader

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a prog...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Angel of the North  

It’s not because I’m sentimental about the North that I believe it needs devolved powers

Chris Blackhurst
Tony Blair gives a speech in 1996  

What the UK needs right now is the radical Tony Blair it had in the nineties

Christopher Goodfellow
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?